Last June, Reuben Brigety II became the first African American Vice Chancellor of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. Since that time his on-campus home has been the consistent target of vandals and he is not keeping silent about it, The Tennessean reports.
"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," Brigety said during a Sunday (Feb. 7) sermon.
When Brigety, 47, became president of the Episcopal liberal arts college, popularly known as Sewanee, he began to play a role in helping the school deal with its Confederate past. It was well known for its veneration of the Confederate States of America and was even founded in 1877 as a southern alternative to the major universities situated through the northern United States.
But Brigety became a loud voice for moving away from the old traditions and embracing a different future.
"If there is any doubt remaining whatsoever that there is even a shred of institutional support for the 'Lost Cause' and slavery and the white supremacy that underline all of it, then we are not adhering to the Christian faith of the Episcopal Church," Brigety told The Tennessean in December.
But Brigety has been trying to provide leadership as he has had to deal with Chen Hall's vandalism, where he and his family live. The Vice-Chancellor has implored the campus community to take action.
"It is up to us to decide who we are, what we will tolerate and how we will live together," Brigety said. "I invite you to be a part of this conversation to reassert and reinforce what it means for Sewanee to truly dwell together in unity."
RELATED: North Carolina Will No Longer Issue Confederate Flag License Plates
Sewanee administrators say they do not know the motives behind the vandalism, but it has been reported to the university’s director of public safety, Laurie Saxton, spokesperson for the school told the newspaper in an email.
"The sanctity, the security, and the dignity of my family are inviolate, and we are not leaving," Brigety said in the sermon. "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."
Photo Credit: Dan Henry/AP/Chattanooga Times Free Press