In February 2007, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution expressing regret for the institution of slavery and calling for reconciliation among Virginians. (General Assembly Joint Resolution: Feb2007 (.pdf))
A few months later, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors issued a commendation of the General Assembly action which also expressed their “particular regret” for the role UVA played in the employment of enslaved persons. (Board of Visitors Statement of Regret: Apr2007)
Recognizing that apology is made meaningful through action, the University and Community Action for Racial Equity (UCARE) formed in 2007.
Our goal is first, to understand the role that the University played in administrative, faculty and student support for slavery and racial segregation and discrimination; second, to understand the legacy of that role and its impact on present day racial disparities on and off grounds; and third, to find ways to address and repair that legacy.
One essential element of our work is helping the University community and adjacent communities come together to define the actions that will lead toward repair and reconciliation.
To that end, we invite and include a broad cross-section of community members and University faculty, staff and students to be a part of our efforts. Through community discussions, one-on-one meetings, and large group roundtable discussions, UCARE participants develop ways to promote understanding, action and reconciliation through concrete steps that address present day conditions in our local community, both on and off grounds.
Some participants consider themselves members of one community or the other; others consider themselves a part of both the University community and the local community. We hope that our efforts at working collaboratively across this ambiguous and sometimes polarized divide represent steps towards true repair and reconciliation.
UCARE Goals and Purposes as identified by Steering Committee members:
Our work will be finished when 1) we put the legacies of slavery and segregation behind us; 2) our understanding of that history is now more complete; and 3) we covenant together that we will not allow such things ever to happen again.
- Acknowledge and address the racial disparities in our community affecting quality of life issues such as healthcare, housing, employment, and education, with primary focus on the past, present, and future impact of the University on/among the community.
- Raise awareness and understanding of the continuing legacy of slavery, segregation, and discrimination, as well as efforts to resist those wrongs, so as to generate commitment and actions that promote racial justice, equity, and reconciliation.
- Further justice through improved understanding and recognition of UVA-Charlottesville racial history and its impact on present day racial disparities, and take actions to reduce/eliminate those disparities.
- Listen and learn from Charlottesville community members who have lived and experienced those legacies.
- Collect and focus light on the issue of racial justice within UVA culture – a ‘megaphone’ of the ignored.
- Effectively communicate the history and legacy of slavery, segregation and discrimination.
- Actively involve UVA personnel and community members to change circumstances that contribute to those legacies.
- Provide a space for people to think critically about Charlottesville and UVA’s past and present and to plan for the future.