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Introduction to the Project

Remembering Slavery, Resistance, and Freedom is a project that seeks to develop memorial events, exhibits and/or projects to recognize the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation through discussions and engagement with Virginia’s African-descended communities and other interested groups. These commemorations will honor the rich and complex lives, contributions, and sacrifices of enslaved and free Africans and African Americans.

Although our project will emphasize several types of sites, including buildings built with enslaved labor and sites where the enslaved resisted the condition of slavery, its main focus is the location and commemoration of cemeteries. Burial grounds emphasize the humanity of enslaved people despite slavery's attempts to deny it, because rituals of mourning and memorialization are a uniquely human practice.  

The memorial events and/or exhibits produced from this engagement will be designed to attract a multi-cultural and diverse audience of Virginians and visitors to the Commonwealth. This work is being carried out in partnership with the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Subcommittee of the Martin Luther King Memorial Commission of the Virginia General Assembly and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Emancipation Day Celebration in Richmond, VA, circa 1905. Image from Library of Congress digital archive.