This week, 2/19

Less than a week after county resident Richard Allan was arrested and charged with two felonies for stealing Court Square’s modest slave auction block marker, The New York Times Magazine ran a new story from its 1619 Project on the issue of slave-sale sites nationwide, and how inadequately we commemorate the horrific tragedies that happened in these places.

As SUNY Binghamton professor Anne C. Bailey writes, “Family was one of the few bright spots in the long night of slavery, and the auction was the event that ripped enslaved families apart.”

The article notes that only a small percentage of these sites have been properly documented and preserved. “To look at some of these images,” Bailey writes of the accompanying photographs of slave-sale sites today, “is to grasp how invisible some of American history’s most grievous wounds have become.”

In Charlottesville, Allan’s theft galvanized ongoing discussions by the city’s Historic Resources Committee to create a more prominent slave auction memorial. And the county is hosting community conversations on the broader issue of how history is told in Court Square, which includes the county-owned monument to Confederate soldiers that dwarfed the city’s markers to Albemarle’s formerly enslaved majority.

These are positive steps, and Charlottesville has done better, more inclusive work than many other areas in Virginia in beginning to acknowledge its African American history. But whatever new memorials emerge, it will only be the beginning.

On Monday, Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, the originator of the 1619 Project, came to Charlottesville for talks with UVA President Jim Ryan and journalist Jamelle Bouie, and said acknowledging the legacy of slavery is only the first step. “Courage is in the doing,” she said, in a call for universities to go beyond studying these issues and provide monetary reparations. “The courage is in trying to repair that damage.”

Posted In:     Opinion,The Editor's Desk

Previous Post

This week, 2/12

Next Post

This week, 2/26



Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to editor@c-ville.com.

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of