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Students Want Larger Slave Memorial at UVA

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The University of Virginia has a rich history, but an often forgotten part of that history is slavery. Friday, the push is on to build a new memorial on grounds for slave laborers who had a big part in building UVA.

It's a student-run effort to get the new memorial and they're asking for the public's input. There is a memorial to slaves who built part of UVA's academical village underneath the Rotunda, but it's very small and hard to notice.

Project Manager Jessie Ray said, "Some of our student interns who knew about the memorial sort of took it upon themselves to say this isn't enough."

Ray works with the students at University and Community Action for Racial Equality. They've gotten ideas from a series of focus groups on grounds.

"Some people have said that it could be a fountain that could incorporate lots of different pieces, so it could include names of known slaves, and a memorial piece to the unknown slaves," said Ray.

Some other ideas include an archway, or a memorial garden. Assistant Dean at the Office of African-American Affairs at UVA Dion Lewis said, "It's important to have something a little more grand, a little more prominent at the university that speaks to the entire university's history, not just a portion of it."

The group is holding a series of sessions to get public input on the memorial over the next few weeks. Ray said, "Right now we are just collecting all of those ideas and soliciting as much feedback as possible."

Whatever form it ends up taking, Lewis says it will take some time, and that it should so it's done right. "There are pieces of this puzzle that need to be put together so that we do a memorial that's justified, a memorial that can be viewed and lauded in many ways for years to come," said Lewis.

Funding for the memorial is still in question, but it's expected to be a combination of private donors and grants.

Tuesday will be the first session for the public to give input. A list of the other sessions available to the public is below.

Session One: Tuesday, July 6th, 5:30-6:30pm, held at Portico Church

201 Monticello Ave.

Parking is available on the street and in their lot. Do not park in the ACAC lot.

Session Two: Wednesday, July 7th, 12:30-1:30pm, held at the Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church

717 Rugby Rd.

Parking is available in a lot on the north side of the building.

Session Three: Thursday, July 15th, 8:30am-9:30am, held at The Haven, at First and Market

112 West Market Street

Parking is limited on the street; consider the regular parking garages downtown.

Session Four: Saturday, July 17th 3-4pm, held at The Haven, at First and Market

112 West Market Street

Parking is limited on the street; consider the regular parking garages downtown.

Reported by Tracy Clemons
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