As Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month approach, the University prepares a myriad of unique events, workshops, and talks that commemorate the life of Martin Luther King and the Black experience at UVA.
This year’s celebration is particularly poignant as the University nears the completion of its Memorial to Enslaved laborers. The memorial seeks to acknowledge the work of the 4-5,000 enslaved people who lived, worked, and built the University of Virginia between 1817 and 1865. According to Anne E. Bromley of UVA Today:
Over the University’s first 40 to 50 years, likely thousands of enslaved laborers worked on the developing Grounds, but they were not always identified. At this point, the names of 577 enslaved laborers have been sandblasted into the granite slabs that were quarried in Culpeper.
The monument design includes 4,000 lines on the stone walls, so when researchers found evidence of slave labor without individuals being named, they picked other details – either an occupation (such as “janitor” seen in the photo) or a kin relationship – in order to add another 311 notations.
The President’s Commission on Slavery and the University spearheaded the memorial project, first proposed by students about 10 years ago.