Add the University of Virginia to the list of universities actively confronting their association with slaveryBreaking News
tags: slavery, University of Virginia
Over the past decade, U.S. colleges and universities have begun paying greater attention to the historical role of slavery at their institutions. For example, Brown University’s Committee on Slavery and Justice released an extensive report in 2006 that documented Brown’s history with slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. In 2011, Emory University hosted the first-ever conference examining the history and legacy of slavery’s role in higher education. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill created a large online exhibition titled Slavery and the Making of the University, recognizing and documenting the contributions of slaves to the university during the antebellum period. The University of Virginia will join other premier institutions in exploring and commemorating its relationship with slavery, as well as the lives of the enslaved people who were an integral part of early life at Jefferson’s University.
At an April 2013 meeting of the President’s Cabinet, Dr. Marcus Martin, Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity, made a presentation on slavery at UVa and proposed that a commission be formed to further explore the topic and to make recommendations as to the next steps the University could take in response to this history. Dr. Martin credited groups such as Memorial for Enslaved Laborers (MEL), the UVa IDEA (Inclusion Diversity Equity Access) Fund, and University and Community Action for Racial Equity (UCARE) for creating robust initiatives around the topic of slavery, which will guide the Commission’s work. Slavery at the University of Virginia: Visitor’s Guide, a student-led brochure that provides visitors with information about the University’s history with slavery, is one such initiative. The formation of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University is the next step in building a broader institutional effort.
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