Friday, April 12, 2024

William & Mary Host Ceremony to Commemorate Construction of Memorial to the Enslaved

The concept for the memorial (pictured here) is titled “Hearth” and resembles a brick fireplace, representing both a place of work for the enslaved as well as a place of gathering and community. (WYDaily/Courtesy of W&M)

WILLIAMSBURG — The College William & Mary (W&M) is preparing to get a new memorial installed on campus.

Dedicated to persons enslaved by the university, the memorial will stand between Ewell Hall and the Brafferton, across the street from the Office of Undergraduate Admission. There, it will serve as a gathering place for the community and as a “reimagined entrance” to the university’s Historic Campus, according to a June 3 news release from the College.

RELATED STORY: Design unveiled for memorial to enslaved Africans at William & Mary

On May 26, the university hosted a ceremony to mark the beginning of construction on the memorial. “Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved,” the brick structure will resemble a fireplace and will feature the names of people who are known to have been enslaved by the university.

The event featured a reading of names of people known to have been enslaved by William & Mary, a reading of the university’s land acknowledgement statement and a libation presented by Hermine Pinson, Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings Professor, English and Africana Studies. The ceremony also included a performance of “Amazing Grace” by Andrea Harris, associate director of university events.

The ceremony also served to celebrate the completion of the Legacy Tribute Garden near Jefferson Hall and to unveil the new “Sankofa Seed” sculpture, an art installation created by Steve Prince, director of engagement and distinguished artist in residence at the Muscarelle Museum of Art, in coordination with Michael Gaynes, a lecturer of art and art history.

President Emeritus Taylor Reveley LL.D. ’18 (left) and Steve Prince, director of engagement and distinguished artist in residence at the Muscarelle Museum of Art, help unveil the Sankofa Seed sculpture. Lynn Briley ’71; D.Sc. ’18, Janet Brown Strafer ’71, M.Ed. ’77, D.Sc. ’18; Professor Emeritus Jacquelyn McLendon L.H.D. ’21; and W&M President Katherine A. Rowe also helped unveil the sculpture.
(Stephen Salpukas/Courtesy of W&M)

The sculpture features a Sankofa bird symbol, which originates in Ghana and represents looking at the past in order to move forward. Both the garden and sculpture are meant to honor past, present and future Black members of the W&M community.

“Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved” is set to be completed in early 2022. To watch highlights from the ceremony on YouTube, click here.


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