Vandals Attack the Home of the First Black President of the University of the South

Less than a year ago, Reuben E. Brigety II was appointed vice chancellor and president of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. He took office on August 1. 2020.

On Sunday, February 7, Dr.Brigety addressed the campus community in a worship service at All Saints’ Chapelon campus. He detailed a series of incidents that have taken place at his residence on campus since he began his tenure as president.

“They have trashed our lawn with beer cans and liquor bottles. They have left threatening messages on pilfered signs near our back door and they have taken measures to ensure that my family and I saw the indecent insults that they left behind,” Dr. Brigety said.

“The sanctity, the security and the dignity of my family are inviolate and we are not leaving,” Dr. Brigety continued. “I cannot abide and I will not tolerate any further incursions onto the grounds of Chen Hall or God forbid inside of it. In demanding respect for my family and our home, I am simply doing what any other husband or father would do who would be worthy of the name.”

This past September, the board of regents of the University of the South issued a statement that read in part: “The University of the South was long entangled with, and played a role in, slavery, racial segregation, and white supremacy — forces that found particular and painful expression in the Confederacy and, later, in the ‘Lost Cause’ mythology of the White South. The University of the South categorically rejects its past veneration of the Confederacy and of the ‘Lost Cause’ and wholeheartedly commits itself to an urgent process of institutional reckoning in order to make Sewanee a model of diversity, of inclusion, of intellectual rigor, and of loving spirit in an America that rejects prejudice and embraces possibility.”

Before coming to Sewanne, Dr. Brigety served as dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Earlier, he served as U.S. ambassador to the African Union for two years. Prior to his work in the policy arena, Brigety was an assistant professor of government and politics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and before that taught international relations at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C.

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Dr. Brigety is a 1995 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He holds a master’s degree in philosophy and a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Cambridge in England.

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