CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The history of the enslaved in the Charlottesville area is coming alive. Descendants of enslaved people at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello spoke at a panel discussion at Northside Library in Albemarle County.
The event ‘Roots and Remembrance: From the Descendants of Monticello’s Enslaved Families’ was a way for descendants to reflect on their ancestors that were sold in the early 1800s. Over 130 enslaved people were sold in January 1827 and 1829 on the West Lawn at Monticello and at the Eagle Tavern, now known as Court Square, in Downtown Charlottesville.
"A fourth of those people came from my family, the Herns family, so I think it’s very important to come out because it’s not just a name or people. These were my ancestors, I knew their names,” Myra Anderson, a descendant, said.
Myra Anderson had 35 ancestors sold during the time and says she feels an obligation to share their stories. “There’s a very, very, very heavyweight in knowing that your family was enslaved and particularly at Monticello, like ever since I found that out, I never feel the same when I’m walking on those grounds.”
Calvin Jefferson comes from three family names from Monticello through marriage. He says many people of color have the same background. "Our history is no different from any other black person in this country, we all have similar histories."
Anderson is still learning more about her family history, but she's glad it's coming to the light. "This is a part of history and I think it's a part of history that's often been in the shadows, but it's very important when you're looking at anything from a historical context that you look at the full picture."
If you’re interested in learning more, Monticello offers slavery tours and has six exhibits of enslaved descendants.