University of Virginia Students Draw Attention to Over-Looked Memorial
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Students at the University of Virginia are trying to bring attention to a marker on Grounds. While the school builds a large memorial for the enslaved people who built the university, one that already exists was the topic of conversation on Friday.
Dozens of people walking around or under the Rotunda on Friday learned something new about UVA. For the past 12 years, many people have been stepping on a memorial for those who were enslaved and built the university. Some people never noticed the memorial.
“I pass by this area a lot actually. I never noticed that it was a plaque,” said Sadie Randall, first-year at the University of Virginia.
A class that covers the history of Nazi Germany worked with Visiting Fellows from the Transatlantic Partnership on Memory & Democracy to look into human rights history, and point out the memorial under the Rotunda.
“They just walk over it, and a lot of students in the class didn't even realize that it was there. We thought that we would raise awareness about it so that we could try to encourage people who are students, on grounds, and professors to know that it’s here and to try to you know cause it’s important to know who built this rotunda,” said Kathryn Williams, second-year student in Nazi Germany course.
Some students walking through the Rotunda said the memorial plaque feels out of place.
“Most plaques that you see around Grounds are usually on a stand post or on the wall so you can actually know that it's signifying something important. They put it on the ground,” said Randall.
While a new memorial for those who were enslaved is under construction near the Rotunda, some students said there is still more work to do.
“I think that it’s obviously fantastic that were taking steps forward but you shouldn't use that as a justification for your not acknowledging what we already have here on grounds,” said Williams.
“Having the plaque here is like still having the same mindset of you want to keep certain people out of the natural light, you want to keep them below ground in a sense,” said Randall.
Students also took some time to clean off that memorial plaque. Construction for that new memorial started earlier this year. Right now, there is no completion date.