People Get Sneak Peek of Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at UVA
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - University of Virginia alumni, staff, and the community got a sneak peek at construction for a memorial to enslaved laborers at the university on Tuesday.
In addition to a tour of the construction site, people also got a look at the hard history of slavery at UVA. The memorial will honor the estimated 5,000 people who built and maintained the university.
People on the tour say UVA erased a lot of history, but the memorial will make it visible and acknowledge the enslaved community. They were able to see the foundation of the memorial and samples of the wall that will list names of enslaved people.
"History is not definitive and it's always unfolding, and for me, it's an unfolding history that was always hidden," said memorial site tourist Diane Brown. "Growing up here, I never really heard about or was taught about enslaved people in the way that was open and honest."
Organizers say the event sold out almost immediately wit ha waiting list of more than 50 people. Given the high demand, Vice Provost for Outreach Louis Nelson says it's likely the site will be opened up to more tours and lectures. He says UVA has worked for eight years to address the topic of slavery.
"So much of what we have embraced as institutions in these communities is a framework that has excluded certain communities and certain narratives that are uncomfortable," Nelson said. "So the movement towards hard histories as communities and institutions and as individuals means dislocating our position and embracing a new position."
Large stones for the memorial are expected to arrive in early August and the guts of the structure should be up between December and February. UVA has a goal to fully open the memorial in mid-spring of 2020.