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Tour Group Uncovers Influence of Black Women Around UVA and Charlottesville

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A tour group explored the influence of black women at UVA. A tour group explored the influence of black women at UVA.
Margie Farrar-Simpson was on the tour and graduated from UVA. Margie Farrar-Simpson was on the tour and graduated from UVA.
The group learned about the use of UVA gardens as a means of holding enslaved laborers. The group learned about the use of UVA gardens as a means of holding enslaved laborers.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

University of Virginia students and members of the Charlottesville community got a closer look at the history of African Americans, specifically women, and their influence on UVA and the city as a whole.

On Sunday afternoon, the group took a tour around UVA. One of the members of the group was UVA graduate Margie Farrar-Simpson, who came back to learn and reflect with her daughter.

“I wanted to learn information I didn’t know about and share a little bit about what my experience was when I was here at UVA,” Farrar-Simpson said. “I didn’t know a lot about the pre-Civil War history because it wasn’t taught. It wasn’t talked about so it’s nice to hear that it really is being shared.”

She traveled from Arlington to do the tour on the history of black women in Charlottesville with her daughter, who’s currently a student at UVA. Though Farrar-Simpson said there has been progress, the university still has a lot to overcome.

“We still have quite a ways to go because even just thinking about the riots that were here not long ago, it’s still around” Farrar-Simpson said. “African American women are moving forward in lots of ways, even here at UVA, where I think it’s a little more of a challenged than it is somewhat nationally depending on the environment that you’re in.”

The guides presented little known facts about things students pass every day, but may not actually know much about.

“It’s kind of often left off the basic history that you learn at UVA,” said Thomas Roberts from the University Guide Service. “Behind each pavilion, there’s actually a garden attached that though they look pretty now, their original intention was to hold and keep enslaved laborers.”

The tour highlighted the history of slavery and racism at the university, something the guides say is often left out when learning about UVA.

“It’s really important to think about when you think of the history of Charlottesville, that relates the history of black women that has been so integral to founding the community we know today,” Roberts said.

The tour is a partnership between UVA’s Guide Service at the university’s newly-founded chapter of 100 Black Women.