Return to Charlottesville, Virginia

Update: Here is a nice write up of my work with history educators in Charlottesville that appeared in the Daily Progress.

I’ve been very lucky over the past two years to have the opportunity to work with teachers and students all over the country on how to understand the current debate surrounding the display of Confederate monuments. However, other than a Skype conversation with a local history department in the days following the white nationalist rally this past August, I have not had the chance to visit my old home of Charlottesville, Virginia. Until today.

Today I had the honor of working with Charlottesville City and Albemarle County teachers through the Jefferson School African American Center. I want to thank Dr. Andrea Douglas and Dr. Jalane Schmidt for bringing me in to talk about this subject and for the opportunity to take part in their larger effort to dedicate a marker from the The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Albemarle County in July.

Our work today begins an important conversation about how a marker commemorating the victim of a lynching fits into the broader landscape that includes two very high-profile monuments to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in downtown Charlottesville.

The shrubbery is beginning to obscure the Stonewall Jackson monument

We started off the day with a walking tour of the monuments, where we discussed their history, the meaning that white and black residents have attached to these sites over the years and suggestions on how the monuments can be used as teaching tools. The afternoon session was spent digging deeper into the history in a classroom setting that included some very stimulating and thought provoking discussions. I learned much more than I taught today.

I applaud Andrea and Jalane for the important work that they are doing for the community and area educators. Regardless of whether the monuments remain or are removed, this is the work that ultimately moves the community forward. I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to play a small part in this effort.

If you teach in the Charlottesville area I highly recommend contacting the center for additional information about this project and for information about future workshops, which are being planned.

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