Burying Ground Memorialization Committee Final Report

Final Report Executive Summary

The University charged the Committee with identifying appropriate means to memorialize the enslaved people who lived and labored on this land prior to the University’s arrival. We followed intersecting paths of exploration and consultation:

  • Extensive original research discovered the names of dozens of enslaved people who worked on the plantations and farms that occupied the land since the late eighteenth century.
  • Guided by an expert local historian, we identified more than a hundred descendants of the families most likely to have had family members interred in the burying ground.
  • The Committee met with those descendants at the Burying Ground site, at local churches, and online to hear their thoughts and suggestions.
  • Meetings and conversation with faculty, staff, and students within the University identified aspirations and principles to guide the memorialization. All agreed on the need to acknowledge the harm done by the institution and to approach the work realistically, authentically, and with humility.
  • Collaboration with two skilled architects experienced in the memorialization of enslaved people, in Virginia and beyond, helped place our work in larger context and advance our conversations toward concrete solutions.

From those dozens of conversations, leading design principles emerged:

The Burying Ground site should remain sacred and lightly touched.

The Burying Ground should be unique, accessible, and inviting.

The Burying Ground should balance sentiments of reconciliation and resilience with the certainty of an enduring struggle.

Based on that work, the Committee has forwarded a final report with three possible designs concepts that reflect lessons learned in its work. President Kevin Hallock will oversee the next steps in memorialization.

Read the full report.