Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

Student Clubs

Clubs at the University of Richmond ranged widely. Students could participate in sports, theater, and organizations formed around regional or ethnic identities. Certain clubs such as the Glee Club and Minstrel Association performed in blackface, “negro dialect,” and crude, racist jokes for entertainment and charity benefit purposes. Ethnic-specific clubs such as the Chinese Club show the lack of racial diversity at the University. The Anglo-Saxon Club displays racism, intolerance, and white supremacist ideologies. The clubs represented in the yearbook provide insight into what types of clubs were considered worthy and acceptable by the campus. 

"John Powell Helps Form Anglo-Saxon Club" (The Collegian, Page 7)

Anglo-Saxon Club 

John Powell was a Richmond native, American pianist, composer, and member of the national Anglo-Saxon Club. Powell was also a contributor of the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which asserted that anyone with just "one-drop of negro blood" was considered black. Powell believed mixing the two races would have "evil results" and degrade the "stronger race." As a result, Powell helped form a branch of the Anglo-Saxon Club on campus. Such an established and recognized club is clear evidence of white supremacy on campus. The Anglo-Saxon Club believed that there was a better, stronger race, and that race should not be tainted by the lower race of blacks. It also advocated for the exclusion of immigrants. The purpose of this club was to "conserve the racial integrity" of whites and the white bloodline. 

Chinese Club

Chinese Club (The Web, 1924)

Chinese Club

In 1924, there were nine members of the Chinese Club at the University of Richmond. Chinese students, primarily from Canton, China, came to the Univerisity of Richmond to serve as missionaries, joining a Christian, Baptist community. The Chinese Club is the sole ethnic club represented in the yearbooks, reflecting the lack of diversity at the University of Richmond during the early 1900s. 

Choral Society Is To Be Formed By Director of Club [Article]

"Choral Society is to be formed by Director of Club" (The Collegian)

Glee Club

The Glee Club, and its usual performances such as minstrelsy, was replaced with the Male Choral Society, a more "innovative" addition to the university. The article describes a minstrel performance as a light and frivolous form of entertainment for the students. A minstrel show is an entertainment show that consisted of dancing, music, and comedy, and was mainly performed by white people in blackface. This article shows that the campus population viewed minstrel performances and blackface as silly and inconsequential. 

Student Clubs