Historians will join others at University of Virginia symposium to discuss what slavery means for today’s colleges and universities

Historians in the News
tags: slavery, University of Virginia



From sleeping overnight outside near where enslaved laborers lived and worked at the University of Virginia to discussing the work of investigating, preserving and making public the legacies of slavery at universities in the South and the North, a symposium to be held at UVA from Oct. 18 to 21 will address historical and contemporary issues pertaining to race, place and inequality.

The 1850 census indicates 93 enslaved people lived and/or worked on UVA’s Grounds, and over the years that number totaled in the thousands. Researching who they were and what roles enslaved laborers played in the building and daily operation of the early University comes under the mission of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, formed in 2013.

One of the commission’s activities has been establishing a consortium, Universities Studying Slavery, which now comprises 30 member institutions, many of whom will contribute to this symposium, which also serves as the group’s semi-annual meeting.

The President’s Commission on Slavery and the University has partnered with the Slave Dwelling Project to present the symposium, “Universities, Slavery, Public Memory and the Built Landscape,” part of the bicentennial commemoration of UVA’s founding. It will highlight the recent work of universities and other institutions that have begun to grapple with their own histories, and will consider appropriate preservation and memorialization.

“The University of Virginia has become a leader nationally, educating and commemorating the contributions of the enslaved,” said Dr. Marcus L. Martin, commission co-chair and UVA vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity. “The Universities Studying Slavery collaboration is working together to address both historical and contemporary issues dealing with race and inequality in higher education, as well as complicated legacies of slavery in modern American society.”

The symposium will bring together more than 125 people from universities, museums and historic sites to share their work and perspectives in panel discussions and interactive sessions. Nearly 500 people have registered to attend, with more on a waiting list. ...




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