A sorority at Samford University in suburban Birmingham, Alabama, produced a T-shirt promoting its spring formal dance that had a map of the state of Alabama that included images of a Black man eating watermelon and slaves picking cotton. The university stated that it had rejected the design of the shirts but that the sorority went ahead with their production.
The president of the Samford chapter of the sorority apologized and maintained that the sorority “failed to focus” on the images within the map of the state. When the images were brought to the attention of the sorority’s leadership, they said they asked members not to wear the shirts and destroy them.
In an email message to the campus community, Andrew Westmoreland, president of Samford, wrote: “I was repulsed by the image. I lack the words to express my own sense of frustration.”
Samford University is affiliated with the Baptist Church. It enrolls about 3,000 undergraduates and 1,900 graduate students. African Americans are 7 percent of the undergraduate student body.