Living with Hidden History
Over the last 15 years since Dudley and
I purchased this farm, our curiosity has driven us towards a better understanding of who lived here, what did they do, and why did they do it. But there’s a part of
the history that was not apparent to us and that is the enslaved worker cemetery.
When we purchased the property we had heard about it but we were unable to find it. We began to look and ultimately found
some indentations in the ground in a heavily wooded area. As we began to clear that area, we found over a hundred indentations and roughly a hundred and
fifty-five gravestones. Our first emotion, when we discovered the first grave was of surprise and sadness that a place so sacred as someone’s burial site could
be allowed to fall in such disrepair. And if it happened here, it was happening all over the nation. That is what I vowed to seek to gain a better understanding of. To write them back into the history book. As I watched as a member of the Board of Visitors the journey that the University went through starting with the
President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, I felt like our experience
qualified us to be articulate advocates of what we think is a very, very
important part of the University’s history. The University which is founded
on the principles of civil discourse has the opportunity to shape the narrative
for a topic that has been very, very difficult for the nation to talk about.
And so, through the work that the Commission has done, and through the
building of this memorial, and through digging more deeply into the history of
5,000 people, will bring to light an understanding of what role they played
in the formation the University and the formation of the Commonwealth, and the nation.