Racism: Sign of the Times

For the Virginia Cavaliers, the 1989 football season was the greatest season in school history, with a record of 10–3 overall, and winning the program’s first ACC championship.  Riding on the high of the stellar 1989 season, the Cavaliers earned their very first No. 1 ranking early in the 1990 season.  The weekend of November 3, 1990 was Homecoming and the No. 1 ranked Wahoos played a nationally televised football game against a tough Georgia Tech squad on CBS.  All eyes were on Charlottesville, and we fought a great fight, but lost the battle.  The defeat didn’t just end with the game.  The next morning my friend Tori and I noticed a huge professionally made poster with the school colors (blue and orange) propped up visibly on the side of the road at the main intersection approaching the University’s Grounds that said:

Copy of the poster found on the corner of Emmet and Ivy near the Grounds of UVA

We grabbed the sign, took it to the Dean of Students office and the University Police were notified.  This sign of hate was on display for all visitors to see during a hectic weekend of football and fan fare.  It viciously attacked the current Virgina Governor – Douglas Wilder, who was the nation’s first elected African-American governor.

Fast forward to present day, the issue of racism is something that continues to cloud our nation on a daily basis.  With the opening of Red Tails this past weekend the topic of inequality had been the headliner of multiple conversations amongst friends.  It had me thinking about the road the civil rights leaders paved and how far race relations has come.  Yet somehow it feels like the road has potholes that are filled with quicksand.  I decided to take a look back at other signs, posters and advertisements that depicted minorities through the years.  It still blows my mind how blatant prejudice rhetoric was accepted during different decades.  The sign I found was in 1990.  Here are some print ads that support the climate of the past:

J. S. Ryan – Auction Sale Of Negroes (1855)

J. F. Moses – NEGROES, NEGROES. (1859)

Electric Hairbrush

Electric Hairbrush (1899)

N.K. Fairbank Co. (the company of a Chicago industrialist which ceased operations in 1903)

Gold Dust Twins, Goldie and Dustie (1910)

Chocolate Pickaninnies (1927)

General Electric (1930’s)

Sanka Coffee (1930’s)

"Darkey in a Watermelon" newspaper advertisment for children’s toy from the (1940's)

Revere Copper and Bras’s War Bonds (1944)

Van Heusen – the world’s largest shirt company (1952)

'This Week in Atlanta' magazine ad from November 19, 1967

Black Mask, Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Corporation (MESBIC) (1971)


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