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Dialogue on Race Talks History of Free African-Americans - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Dialogue on Race Talks History of Free African-Americans

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The Dialogue on Race held a discussion about a unique aspect of Charlottesville and Albemarle County history.  The conversations highlighted the contributions of free African-Americans before and after the Civil War.

Thursday night's discussion brought a large and diverse crowd, and many say everyone can benefit from these kinds of conversations.

Panelist Shirley Solomon Parrish shares words of poetry describing her grandmother, a woman who is a rich part of her family history.

People packed Charlottesville City Council chambers to learn more about the role African-Americans played in Virginia before and after the Civil War.

"I believe it's important because in this area, I don't think a lot of African-American history is known, but I think it's important that it should be known," Parrish said. 

Thursday night's discussion hit close to home focusing on how free blacks made contributions in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

The audience had a chance to look at how freed blacks owned property and were on record paying taxes.  The conversation also explored the rich heritage in the Lincoln Height Neighborhood highlighting teachers, entrepreneurs, and those in the medical field.

Panelist Bishop G.H. Gohanna said, "We're talking not only the history of Lincoln Height and the influential people of Lincoln Height, but how the village raised the children of Lincoln Height which consists of Charlton Avenue and Henry Avenue."

But perhaps what stood out the most about the discussion was the diversity in the crowd.

"It's part of our history and it helps us understand what we've done wrong and what we've done right and we can keep moving forward," attendee D.J. Hill said. 

Gohanna said, "Without knowing where we were and how we got to where we are, then the history would not be important."

A total of four panelists made presentations Thursday night, each highlighting a different aspect of African-American history in the region.

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