A historical perspective
by Andrew Shurtleff
English Professor Lisa Woolfork talks with a student. Left and
right: students walk to and from classes.
For much of U.Va.s history, diversity was a predicament
to avoid rather than a goal to embrace. Women, blacks and other
minorities were excluded, leaving the Universitys hallowed
tradition of intellectual vigor and ethical conduct available to
only a privileged few.
the last 50 years, much has changed. Women students now outnumber
men, Asian Americans and Hispanics have been embraced both in the
classroom and in the workforce and perhaps most dramatically
African Americans have become vital to the life and achievements
gains do not always mean acceptance, and diversity is still a central
concern among employees and students. With this issue, Inside U.Va.
a series, Voices of Diversity, with two stories: one
a historical perspective (at right), the other explaining the Envision
Diversity initiative started by U.Va.s leadership. (See
Walk the talk, page 5.)
Paul M. Gaston
response to President Casteens call for an examination of
the history of the Universitys racial beliefs and practices
could take us back a long way and run to many hundreds of pages.
I go back 100 years to broach one part of that examination: How
racial segregation was brought to an end here.
1903, W.E.B. DuBois wrote that the problem of the twentieth
century is the problem of the color-line. For African-Americans
this problem was a white problem, rooted in the dominant
races determination to maintain what was loosely called white
supremacy. Here in Virginia, a brand new constitution had just been
adopted to fortify the color line. Its architects as, indeed,
most white Virginians thought the denial of citizenship rights
to black people stemmed from natural forces resulting in what they
called The Negro Problem. Full