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Monticello hosts “Ascendant Day” as part of Juneteenth celebrations

Published: Jun. 18, 2022 at 10:26 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Monticello’s Ascendant Day highlighted the power of oral histories, journalism, and art in the descendant community. It was designed to focus on shaping the future of America.

“We’ve come to this place where our ancestors toiled, day in and day out, we’ve come to this place to reclaim it,” Gayle Jessup White with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation said.

She is descended from two families who were enslaved at Monticello.

“The Hemmings family and the Hubbard family and I’m also descended from the person who enslaved them. Thomas Jefferson, through one of his great-great grandsons,” White said.

The day brought the public together, descendants, and those who help shape Monticello.

“This is so much more about it than building, we’ve got to be able to create something that is lasting for generations and honors the people who were here to actually honor those the who are the enslaved people here at Monticello,” Peter Cook said.

Cook says the work is far from over.

“With the design of the burial ground is a design for the contemplative site right here at the end of mulberry row, Cook said.

Using history to understand the past, present, and future.

“Understand Monticello as a representative of the very best of America, and a lot of pain in America as well. It’s a microcosm. It’s a phenomenal story and it’s right here on these grounds,” White said.

This is the third time it’s held the event in the past six years.

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