UVA Dorm Honors Two Former Slaves
The Commission on Slavery and the university hosted a ceremony for the Gibbons House Friday afternoon.
They showed off some reproductions of original photographs of the pair taken in the early 1800s, and unveiled a plaque detailing their lives.
“This is one of the first real attempts at UVA to begin to re-inscribe the story of slavery and the lives of the enslaved back onto the landscape here and so we envision this as the first in a number of moves that will then connect this kind of heritage trail across grounds," says Kirt von Daacke, Slavery Commission co-chair.
The commission says the 75,000 square foot residence hall will host 200 students in fall.
“William and Isabella Gibbons were enslaved laborers owned by University faculty members living on the Lawn. Mr. Gibbons worked as a butler in Pavilion IX in the 1840s. Mrs. Gibbons served separately as a cook for families living in Pavilions V and VI from 1853 to 1863.
The Gibbons were integral members of the Academical Village. Following emancipation, Mrs. Gibbons became a teacher in the Charlottesville Freedmen's primary school, which later became the Jefferson School.
Mr. Gibbons became the first man of color to serve as minister to the Charlottesville congregation now known as the First Baptist Church, the city's oldest black church, formed on March 16, 1863. He later became minister of the Zion Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Mr. Gibbons' death in June 1886 was reported in a front-page obituary in The Washington Post. Ten thousand mourners are said to have attended his funeral in Washington.”