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Memorial for Enslaved Laborers
The Memorialization of Enslaved Laborers (MEL)
A consistent piece of conversation in our action group meetings was the desire to memorialize history and increase its visibility to the broader community. A UCARE intern and also a co-chair for the Student Council Diversity Initiatives (DI) committee organized DI around the issue of a memorial to the slaves involved in the construction of and daily life of UVA. In the spring of 2010 the student leaders prepared and sent out a survey to the entire university community with questions about the existing memorial marker and the idea of a new one, and received over 800 replies.
They organized an informational forum about the history of African Americans at UVA, with short presentations from Professors Ervin Jordan, Phyllis Leffler and Scot French, and also have a Facebook page with over 800 fans. UCARE assisted the students by organizing two sets of focus group discussions to engage community members around the questions: what should the purpose, or the spirit, of the memorial be, what could it look like, and where could it be located.
UCARE is currently finalizing an Advisory Committee, made up of UVA faculty and area community members, who will serve to provide feedback to the students on the process of this project, as well as serve as an institutional memory as the student leaders begin to transition out of UVA. The students and other organizers recognize this will be a lengthy process, and desire to ensure that what results from this effort benefits both UVA and Charlottesville community members. Stay tuned for updates on how you can stay involved.
A student-run competition for memorial concept submissions held in 2011 was highly successful; many submissions were received and three were selected. First, second, and third place memorial submissions are available to be reviewed here. The others are available on the UCARE Resources Page. For more details on the competition, see: http://framingourfuture.wordpress.com/competition-guidelines/