Virginia Colleges and Universities Join Together to Discuss Their Shared Historical Legacies

Slaves-on-a-shipA new consortium of 12 colleges and universities in Virginia recently held its first meeting to discuss how the educational institutions have dealt with and will deal with the issue of slavery. The Virginia Colleges and Universities Studying Slavery group held its first meeting at Morven Farm at the University of Virginia.

Representatives of Washington & Lee University, the College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, Roanoke College, Longwood University, the Virginia Military Institute, Norfolk State University and the Virginia University of Lynchburg joined the host University of Virginia in discussions. Other institutions – including Hampton University, Sweet Briar College, Virginia Union University, and Virginia Tech – will be included in future meetings.

Kelley Fanto Deetz, who was hired last fall to a three-year postdoctoral fellowship to conduct research on the role of slavery in the history of the University of Virginia, hosted the first meeting. She said “this is just the start of what I hope will become a large-scale working group that will eventually span into addressing contemporary issues dealing with race and higher education, inequalities, and the complicated legacy of slavery in our state and in our country.”

Dr. Deetz, who is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and holds a Ph.D. in African American studies and a Ph.D. in African diaspora studies from the University of California, Berkeley, hopes to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the landing of the first slaves who arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, when the anniversary occurs in 2019. “It is my hope that we as a collective can organize statewide events, propose curricular changes, and support one another to achieve common goals.”

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