Governor Ralph Northam signs bill establishing Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship and Memorial Program

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 5:47 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Governor Ralph Northam made a stop in Charlottesville Wednesday morning to sign a bill that will honor descendants of enslaved laborers.

Northam signed a bill that establishes the Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship and Memorial Program.

It will provide scholarships to descendants of enslaved people who helped build the University of Virginia and other colleges in the commonwealth.

“Oh it’s just very powerful.” That’s how Governor Ralph Northam described the moment.

“To be with the families who are descendants of enslaved Africans and to have the monument there at the University of Virginia where enslaved individuals built that university,” he said.

At a small ceremony in front of the memorial to enslaved laborers at the University of Virginia, Northam called this bill - which will provide scholarships to descendants of enslaved laborers - a huge step in the right direction.

“You know we’ve had 400 years of history and a lot of it is not good history. It is time that we all listen and learn. The more we know, the more we can do, the more action we can take. It’s time to right the wrongs of the past,” he said.

Northam said while we cannot erase our past, we can acknowledge its present-day effects.

“Our job is to reckon with it, acknowledge it, and see what we can do to repair old damage. We must tell the full and complete story of our past so that we can move forward to a better future,” he said.

In addition to UVA, the enslaved ancestors college access program will take place at Longwood University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Military Institute, and The College of William and Mary.

“It will require these five schools, to require these five schools, to provide a tangible benefit such as a college scholarship or community based economic development program. For individuals or communities with a demonstrated historic connection to slavery that will help break the cycle of poverty,” Northam said.

The program is set to start in the 2022-2023 academic year.

Copyright 2021 WVIR. All rights reserved.