U-Va. acknowledges its slave history

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When the Rev. William Gibbons died in 1886, 10,000 people attended his funeral in Washington. A second service in Charlottesville stopped traffic and commerce as throngs of mourners from the black community rushed to the Baptist church.

Gibbons and his wife lived and died at a time of great change, from slavery – they were owned by professors at the University of Virginia — to emancipation, to leadership and great renown.

Now U-Va. is telling their stories, and naming a new dorm in their honor, as the university delves into the darker side of its storied past.

Gibbons House, a nearly $35 million project, will open to students in the fall, with photos of the couple and panels describing what slavery was like on Grounds. The University of North Carolina is the only other college that isn’t a historically black university with a dorm named after a slave — a famous poet at the time — according to Marcus Martin, who co-chairs the U-Va. president’s commission on slavery and the university.




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