The University of Virginia recently held a meeting aimed at getting input from local residents in the Charlottesville area for their views on a proposed memorial to the Black slaves and laborers who helped construct early buildings on the university’s campus. The meeting was held at the Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church in Charlottesville. Attendees were asked to give their views on the purpose and theme of the proposed memorial, not specific designs or plans on how the memorial would appear.
Participants generally agreed that the memorial should emphasize education and encourage students and other visitors to learn more about history of slavery and how it impacted the nation’s history.
The university’s board of visitor recently selected the Boston-based Howeler+Yoon architectural firm to design the memorial. The firm will work with academics who have been associated with the university. One of these scholars is Mabel O. Wilson, a graduate of the University of Virginia who is now an architectural historian at Columbia University. She notes that at the University of Virginia “history is hiding in plain sight and it’s important for these stories to be told. Memorials are not just for a place. They mark people, history, events.”