Montpelier Descendants Call Foul on Board over FiringsBreaking News
tags: slavery, historic preservation, James Madison, Montpelier, public history
The foundation that runs Virginia's historic Montpelier, home of the fourth U.S. president, James Madison, and birthplace of the Constitution, said Wednesday it was open to addressing parity on its board and giving equal representation to descendants of those the American statesman had enslaved.
But the group that represents the descendant community has said such a move is meant to distract from the mostly white-run board's refusal to share power with Black people.
At issue are seats on the board that runs the foundation. The Montpelier Descendants Committee (MDC), which represents some 300 descendants of enslaved people, had sought to change the board's makeup.
Last year, the two parties struck a power-sharing agreement that would see half of the board's seats selected by the descendants of the enslaved.
But last month, the foundation board abruptly voted to change its bylaws, effectively stripping nominating power from the Black descendants, and in the MDC's eyes, robbing Black people of the opportunity to have equal buy-in on managing the grounds that their ancestors for generations toiled and maintained.
The bitter debate reached a breaking point this week, with the firing of three senior staff who had supported the Black descendants community. A fourth staff member had been fired last week.
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