The Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia Opens in 2020
The Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at UVA, a planning of which began during David J. Neuman’s tenure as Chief Planning Officer and Architect for the University of Virginia, was recently completed and is located next to Jefferson’s Academical Village. This project is especially important as our nation becomes more engaged in correcting racial inequities, both past and present. This
Below is an excerpt from the UVA President’s Commission on Slavery and the University.
Since the University of Virginia’s founding, the belief that inquiry and knowledge are essential to a thriving democracy has stood at its core. This focus has continually led us to seek new challenges, break through barriers, and pursue uncharted paths. Today, we are leading the nation in deepening our understanding of the role of enslaved laborers in building our country and its institutions—including this University.
The Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia began with a student-led effort in 2010 and is a shining example of student self-governance. The memorial will acknowledge and honor the 4,000 or more individuals who built and maintained the University. In addition to clearing land, digging foundations, fetching water, chopping and stacking wood, cleaning, and completing daily chores for students and professors, they engaged in highly skilled labor—including cooking, molding and firing brick, complex carpentry work, roofing, transporting and carving quarried stone, blacksmithing, and making clothing, All these men, women, and children lived with dignity, resisted oppression, and aspired for freedom.