Inside the Reversal of the Montpelier BoardBreaking News
tags: slavery, James Madison, Montpelier, public history
The board that oversees James Madison’s Montpelier estate has chosen 11 new directors recommended by a group representing descendants of enslaved workers, claiming a milestone in diversity at a major historical site.
Monday’s vote creates full parity for the descendants of the enslaved in the leadership of the Montpelier Foundation, and amounts to a sharp turnaround from the board’s effort in March to repudiate the Montpelier Descendants Committee.
“It has been a long and not always easy process to get to this point, but one result of the process has been the identification of an incredibly gifted and renowned slate of new Board members,” the foundation said in a news release. Board chairman Gene Hickok, who had driven the split with the MDC, is stepping down as his term comes to a close.
“I am very pleased that the goal of parity has been achieved and that the Foundation has added such distinguished new members to its Board. I wish the Board every success in moving ahead for Montpelier’s benefit,” Hickok said in a written statement.
The new members include TV journalist Soledad O’Brien and Harvard professor and former NAACP chief the Rev. Cornell William Brooks.
“As our nation grapples with and even grieves over the racial injustices of this day, the work of the Montpelier Foundation is all the more important: teaching the lessons of the living legacy of President James Madison, studying the past and possibilities of our Constitution, and sharing across our Republic and beyond the ongoing story of those enslaved at Montpelier,” Brooks said in a news release.
Some 300 people were enslaved over a 150-year period at Montpelier, the family home of Madison, who was the nation’s fourth president and the father of the U.S. Constitution.