The University of the South, commonly known as Sewanee, has made two recent moves to remove symbols of racism. A stain-glass window in the chapel will be updated to remove the Confederate flag. And a School of Theology lecture series named for a slavery and KKK apologist will be renamed.
[The Rev. Peter Gray, University Chaplain,] describes the previous window: “In the background, there’s a small church… and there are two Bishops, one Southern and one Northern. You know that is the case because over the shoulder of the Northern bishop is the flag of the United States of America, and over the shoulder of the Southern bishop is the Confederate battle flag.” The two figures are joining together, reconciling Northern and Southern Episcopal churches after the Civil War.
When explaining the importance of removing the symbol, Gray says, “This is where our welcome is extended. There is a window behind me that makes this welcome difficult, if not impossible.”
“In place of the flags, we’ll have landscapes.” Gray says. “Landscapes that evoke the regions of the country that are represented by the Bishops in the image. And also, while we’re at it, we’re going to take away the word ‘Reconciliation,’ because reconciliation requires amendment of life, repentance, and finding a new way forward.”
From DeBose removed from annual lecture series title – School of Theology News
The faculty of the School of Theology has been engaged in honest and open discussions about changing the name of the lectures for some time, and on April 7, 2021, voted to remove his name from the annual event, effective immediately.
“The South received and exercised slavery in good faith and without doubt or question, whatever we pronounce it now, it was not a sin at that time to those people. It was natural that we were in it and of it would be the last to see its extinction as a necessary step in the moral progress of the world. Now that the judgement is passed, we join in it. Slavery we say, is a sin, and a sin of which we could not possibly be guilty,” wrote DuBose. In his typescript memoir, DuBose praised the Ku Klux Klan as “an inspiration of genius.”
The decision to distance the school from the racist views of one of its early professors comes amid rising tensions at the Episcopal university, which was founded in 1857 initially to serve the South’s white, slaveholding class. Last year, vandals launched nighttime attacks on the campus home of Reuben E. Brigety II, the university’s first Black vice-chancellor. More recently, university officials condemned an incident at lacrosse match in March in which Sewanee students reportedly shouted racist slurs at an opposing team.