The design of a new Memorial to Enslaved African American Laborers on the grounds of the University of Virginia marks a critical moment to address the complex history of the University—and of the country.
The Memorial to Enslaved Laborers responds to a deep need to address an untold and uncomfortable history - one that is still very much a difficult, though necessary, national conversation on race. It is vital to highlight those African American historical sites, ones that are often hiding in plain sight.
UVA’s Memorial to Enslaved Laborers should create a physical place of remembrance and a symbolic acknowledgement of a difficult past. The memorial should become a place of learning as well as a place of healing.
The memorial must address multiple constituencies on UVA grounds and within the Charlottesville community, in particular the descendants of African Americans who built, worked, and lived at the University.
The memorial is part of a larger, ongoing process at the University spearheaded by the President's Commission on Slavery and the University (PCSU). PCSU began in 2013, guided by the work of groups such as Memorial for Enslaved Laborers (MEL), the UVa IDEA (Inclusion Diversity Equity Access) Fund, and University and Community Action for Racial Equity (UCARE).
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