-William and Isabella Gibbons Scholarship Fund:
-In commemoration of William and Isabella Gibbons a scholarship will be provided in their honor to anyone applying to UVA with descendancy to a slave who lived and labored in Virginia at any point. The scholarship will cover all expenses for a student to attend school for 4 years. William and Isabella Gibbons made huge contributions to the University and were honored by UVA in 2015 with the renaming of a first year dormitory to the “Gibbons House” and we hope to add to their legacy with the naming of our scholarship fund in their honor.
William and Isabella Gibbons were two slaves who were owned and labored for different professors at the University. William Gibbons labored Professor Henry Howard and later philosophy Professor William H. McGuffey and served as a butler. Isabella Gibbons served a cook in the kitchens of Pavilion V and VI and was owned professor Francis Smith. Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons were able to become literate and raise a family in Charlottesville despite the barriers of being enslaved and being enslaved at different households. William and Isabella Gibbons contributions to educating slaves and providing strong leadership for the African American community in the Charlottesville and D.C. areas makes them the perfect faces for a scholarship fund promoting higher education for African Americans. In 2015, the University renamed a first-year dormitory after the Gibbons family. The “Gibbons House” is part of what is considered “New Dorms” at UVA and is a 63,365 sq. ft five story building. The renaming of this dormitory acknowledges the contributions the Gibbons family made to the university and we hope to add to the memory of this legacy through the naming of our proposed scholarship fund after them.
Photo of the exterior of the Gibbons House
William Gibbons was born in either 1825 or 1826 on an Albemarle plantation and Isabella Gibbons was born around the year 1836 and her exact birth place is not know. The couple married in the 1950’s despite Virginia law prohibiting marriage between enslaved individuals. William and Isabella Gibbons worked hard to educate themselves and their children both during times of enslavement and after the end of slavery. Isabella Gibbons taught their children to read and write in secret while being enslaved. Both William and Isabella Gibbons sought higher education after the end of slavery. Isabella Gibbons enrolled and received a diploma from the New England Freedman’s Aid Society’s Charlottesville Normal School and later because the first African American teacher at that school. Willam Gibbons enrolled later in life at Howard University as a divinity student.
William Gibbons became a minister to the congregation now known s the First Baptist Church and later was the pater at Zion Baptist Church in D.C. Isabella Gibbons taught at the Charlottesville Normal School through the late 1880’s. Upon the death of William Gibbons in 1886 more than 10,000 people came together to attend his funeral signifying how important and influential he became in the African American Community. Isabella Gibbons died three years after her husband and is believed to be buried close to William at Oakwood cemetery. Willam and Isabella Gibbons fought to educate themselves and those around them despite the terrors of enslavement. They worked hard after they received their freedom to be impactful individuals in their communities and are role models that we wish to remember and commemorate in our scholarship fund.
(Photo of Mrs. Isabella Gibbons)
About the scholarship:
If in a given year no applicant to the University is a descendent of a slave who worked at UVA, the scholarship will be given to an African American student or students who are most deserving and financially needing
-The goal of the William and Isabella Gibbons scholarship fund is to provide financial assistance to all African American students with descendancy to a slave in Virginia.
Finances for the Scholarship Fund will come from multiple resources:
1. Proceeds accrued through the brick construction, part of the Changing the Landscape project
-Not only will donors know that their donation goes to physically changing the landscape at the University it will also go towards providing tuition to allow future students attend the university.
2. The Race for Freedom will collect an entry fee that will be donated to this scholarship fund.
-Runners will know that their entry fee goes to a scholarship fund and therefore increase incentive for sign-up and participation
3. University of Virginia Strategic Investment Fund
The goal is to raise as much money from the Changing the Landscape project and the Race for Freedom. The reason for doing this is to allow as many people as possible feel as though their money is going towards the reparation process. The hope is that people will gain a sense of sentiment towards the university’s history with slavery.
Significant research on the Gibbons family used in this article was found from using http://slavery.virginia.edu/gibbons-descendants-visit-gibbons-house-2/ For even more information about the Gibbons family and their contributions to UVA please visit this article.
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