New Virginia Governor's Mansion Tour Doesn't Mention SlaveryBreaking News
tags: slavery, Virginia, public history, Glenn Youngkin
For the first time in more than two years, members of the public can enter Virginia’s Executive Mansion. Public tours resumed on Friday featuring paintings, silver and rugs intended to present the story of the country’s oldest continuously occupied governor’s residence.
But in a shift from a multi-year effort to tell a more complete history of the mansion, visitors won’t be taken to a building next to the mansion where enslaved workers once slept and toiled. And in two tours on Friday, docents made no mention of slavery at all.
Enslaved laborers were involved in most major construction projects of the era — including the state Capitol and the White House. Though there hasn’t been a deep dive into the mansion’s construction, it is clear that enslaved workers lived and worked in it for more than fifty years.
In a brief interview on Friday, first lady Suzanne Youngkin, who oversaw the redesign of the mansion’s artwork, said the former slave dwelling wasn’t compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. She said a committee that oversees the mansion’s decor was working on a virtual tour that will include the former slave dwelling and tell a more complete history of the site. Younkgin said she hoped to eventually install a path to allow visitors to see the building during special events.
“We would like to next spring embark on that pathway project and make sure that at occasions like [Virginia] Garden Week, etc, we can get as many people cycling through there to understand its importance as is feasible and safe,” the first lady said.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin ran on a platform arguing that liberals were trying to “indoctrinate our kids” with critical race theory, a graduate-level framework that does not appear in Virginia curricula. At the same time, he vowed to teach “all of history — the good and the bad.”