September 14, 2005
Students at UVA painted the words "all men are created equal" where everyone could see it.
Racial messages and hurtful comments are what caused the tension on Grounds. This has sparked students and faculty to spread the meaning of equality. The Gettysburg address reminds students of the fundamental values that should unite them
"Four score and seven years ago" are the words Abraham Lincoln wrote 142 years ago, before he gave his speech on the battlefield. Now, UVa is using his words to fight their own battle, a battle against racism.
"There's been some not so nice messages written on Beta Bridge that implies certain lack of tolerance, disdain, even hatred, so I think this is a way of saying 'hey, let's read Lincoln again,'" said Sanda Iliescu, a UVa Art and Architecture Professor.
271 community members and UVa students painted every word of the Gettysburg Address on the Beta Bridge wall to serve one purpose.
"Equality and tolerance," said Iliescu.
"It has the idea of reconciliation of the issues that sometimes aren't discussed as much," added Danny Silverman, a UVa student.
"It's a good opportunity to just let everyone know what's on our minds and try and get back to normalcy, we don't want to focus on the negative here," said Jesse Wetzel, another UVa student.
That negativity is what is encouraging students to take a stand. "I think it's great that everyone is standing together and showing that they won't tolerate it," said Elizabeth Tran.
"It's getting the ball rolling, so it's exciting," said Lindsay Mott.
Iliescu is hoping it will catch on. As people walk across Beta Bridge everyday she hopes they'll remember that "all men are created equal."
Over the years the wall has symbolized the community, with birthday celebrations and even marriage proposals but now UVa students want to send another message that enough is enough.
It was supposed to take 8 hours to write every word of the Gettysburg Address on the bridge, but students completed the task in only 5 hours.