The University of Virginia has appointed Kelley Fanto Deetz to a three-year postdoctoral fellowship to conduct research on the role of slavery in the university’s history. She was an assistant professor of history and director of the Public History Program at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia.
Dr. Deetz will work with other members of the university’s President’s Commission on Slavery and the University to research and disseminate new historical information about the enslaved laborers in the university’s early history. And she will recommend how the university should commemorate those who worked in bondage for the university. Her research will have a particular focus on the cooks and domestics who worked in the university’s Academical Village.
“We want to respectfully memorialize this history in ways that bridge the people of the past with the living,” Dr. Deetz said. “Memorializing something so horrific and tragic is a complicated task, and one that needs much care and respect. Memorials are, in essence, for the living, but must be honest and true to those being honored. It is important that we remember their status as slaves, but not forget the individuals and their perseverance.”
Dr. Deetz is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. She holds a Ph.D. in African American studies and a Ph.D. in African diaspora studies from the University of California, Berkeley.