James Madison’s Montpelier using $5.8 million grant to memorialize enslaved ancestors
ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Descendants from all across central Virginia gathered at James Madison’s Montpelier to celebrate the launch of a new project that has been years in the making.
Montpelier is using a $5.8 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to build a monument to memorialize the enslaved ancestors who once worked on the land where they now lay.
“It’s the beginning of memorializing the landscape across this plantation where our ancestors lived and worked,” Montpelier Descendants Committee President Larry Walker said.
Walker says the new site will tell the true tale of what it really took to write the Constitution.
“The story of our enslaved ancestors who worked here and who are buried here was not told, and so this memorial is an opportunity for us to bring to life their story. Their history,” Walker said.
Walker and Montpelier Board Chair Hasan Kwame Jeffries say the project will provide a raw glimpse into what life was like for enslaved ancestors.
“It’s critically important that we not only acknowledge sort of what took place here, and not just the creation of the Constitution, but the work and the labor that went to build up in Montpelier, but really, to build this nation,” Jeffries said.
Walker says Montpelier received an addition $1 million grant from the state which will also go towards the memorial.
“There’s a fuller story that needs to be told. This is not about demeaning anyone, this is about making America whole,” Walker said.
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