Slave Auction Block Vigil honors the lives on enslaved laborers sold at Court Square

Slave Auction Block Vigil honors the lives on enslaved laborers sold at Court Square
Sign remembering the enslaved people who were sold in Historic Court Square. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Community members, clergy and educators came together in-person and virtually to honor the lives of Black enslaved laborers sold at Historic Court Square in downtown Charlottesville this afternoon.

The annual “Slave Auction Block Vigil,” reflected on the area’s traumatic past, as ancestors of the enslaved laborers auctioned off at the site in the 1800s remembered their past through song, prayer, and ritual.

The vigil marks the first night of the “Liberation and Freedom Day” observance week, which celebrates the day Union soldiers came to the area notifying the enslaved laborers that they were free. This year, the vigil was live-streamed for viewers to watch from home, due to COVID-19.

Cauline Yates, the seventh-generation grand-niece of Sally Hemings, an enslaved woman owned by Thomas Jefferson, said she hopes the event teaches people about the area’s history.

“We hope that they understand and learn more about Liberation and Freedom Day, and understand about the court here, the court yard and where the slaves were sold, where the slaves were snatched and brought to the auction block to be sold. We just hope people get an education on slavery,” Yates said.

The event was sponsored by Beloved Community Cville and the African American Pastors Council.

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