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UVA Memorial to Enslaved Laborers

Charlottesville, VA
  • Photo © Alan Karchmer.

UVA’s new memorial seeks to formally acknowledge the forced labor and individual lives of the enslaved African Americans who built and sustained the everyday life of the University. The interior of the structure lists names of known enslaved African Americans and allows for additional names that may be discovered through further research. Historians estimate that around 5,000 enslaved laborers worked at Thomas Jefferson’s historic university.

Höweler + Yoon designed this memorial in collaboration with historian and designer Dr. Mabel O. Wilson.

  • The memorial, circular in form and 80 feet in diameter, rises out of the ground and reaches a peak of eight feet.
  • Clad in local granite, the structure is supported with concrete buttressed retaining walls that back the sloping stone pieces.

A smaller interior ring, accessible via a circular path, has a stone bench with a water feature for visitors to pause and reflect.

  • Photo © Alan Karchmer.
  • Photo © Alan Karchmer.
  • Photo © Alan Karchmer.
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