Southern Hospitality

by Tucker Shelley

Tucker Shelley is a rising senior at UR from Burlington, Vermont. He is a member of the Theta Chi fraternity on campus. In his free time, Tucker prefers staying active and listening to good music. This is his first summer working on the Race & Racism Project and will continue similar work next semester for Dr. Maurantonio in the “Digital Memory and the Archive” course.

In early July, I took a trip to the Tuckahoe Plantation in Richmond, Virginia. A quick drive from the University of Richmond, the plantation is just down River Road, strategically placed near the banks of the James River. The house was originally built by the Randolphs, a wealthy, large family that was widely respected throughout Virginia in the 1700s. Coming into the tour, I was under the impression that this was a plantation owned by Thomas Jefferson and his family. I have often heard it referred to as the Jefferson plantation and on the website they advertise it as “the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson.” It came as quite a surprise to me that his family only moved into the house to raise the kids of Thomas Randolph after his and his spouse’s early deaths, as Thomas Randolph and Peter Jefferson, Thomas’ Father, had agreed upon earlier. The tour focused a decent amount on Thomas Jefferson, as that is what gets people to continue visiting.

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What’s your experience with race and racism at the University of Richmond?

In October 2017, a cohort of students, faculty, and staff worked with radio creator and producer Kelley Libby to practice audio recording skills and to produce a brief audio piece for the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project. Faculty members Dr. Patricia Herrera and Dr. Nicole Maurantonio, project archivist Irina Rogova, junior Joanna Hejl, and senior Cory Schutter roamed the University of Richmond campus on a brisk Saturday morning posing one question to passerbys: What’s your experience with race and racism at the University of Richmond?

The below audio piece (with subtitles embedded) is a sampling of the answers they received. Thank you to Kelley Libby for editing, and to seniors Destiny Riley and Cory Schutter for narrating the piece.

 

James Madison’s Montpelier: Connecting the Past to the Present

by Kristi Mukk

Kristi Mukk is a rising senior from Mililani, Hawaii. She is majoring in Rhetoric and Communications and minoring in English. She is a dancer and communications director for Ngoma African Dance Company. This is her first time working for the Race & Racism Project as a Summer Fellow, and she is excited to continue her work in the course Digital Memory & the Archive in Fall 2018.

The Mere Distinction of Colour exhibit at James Madison’s Montpelier opened to the public on June 5, 2017 and is located in the cellars under the mansion. The exhibit invites visitors to confront the great American paradox of the reality of slavery in a country that values liberty and freedom. Enslaved people played a large role in the lives of James and Dolley Madison. James Madison grew up around enslaved people working on the Montpelier plantation, and they were part of his birthright when his father passed away. Dolley Madison utilized the skills of the enslaved people to uphold her social status. James Madison served as president of the American Colonization Society, a group which sought to send free blacks to Africa as an alternative to emancipation in the United States. At the time of James Madison’s death, there were about 120 enslaved people at Montpelier. After his death, the enslaved people were not freed, but sold by Dolley Madison due to her financial situation.

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Storm in the Time of Shelter

by Ayele d’Almeida

Ayele d’Almeida is a Political Science and Leadership double-major from Bloomington, Minnesota. Her work at Common Ground, the University of Richmond’s social justice initiative informed her decision to pursue the Race & Racism Project as a summer fellow. She hopes that through her fellowship and continued connection with the project, she will learn more about the University of Richmond. Ayele believes that the Race & Racism Project will also help later in life – as the project forces her to question institutions she may benefits from. She hoped to focus her research on black faculty and the presence of black students in white-dominated clubs and spaces.

My second and last site visit for the Race & Racism Project was the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) on Sunday, July 1st. Going into the visit, I did not know much about the museum beside the fact that it was new. I had been seeing pictures of brightly patterned and slightly disturbing KKK robes on social media, but I had no idea that this installment was in the ICA.

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Gone but Not Forgotten

by Jacob Roberson

Jacob Roberson is a rising senior on the varsity football team from Richmond, VA double majoring in psychology and sociology. He is a co-vice president of UR Mentoring Network, he is a part of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, and during the 2017-2018 academic year he was an appointed student representative of the Presidential Advisory Committee for Sexual Violence Prevention and Response. Additionally, he has been inducted into numerous honor societies including Omicron Delta Kappa, Mortar Board, Alpha Kappa Delta, and Psi Chi. He joined the Race & Racism Project in the summer of 2018 as a part of Team Oral History and hopes to remain an active contributor and collaborator into and through the 2018-2019 school year.

On June 16, the Saturday before Juneteenth, I had the privilege of visiting Monticello—the former home of the “Father of the Declaration of Independence” and the United States’ 3rd president, Thomas Jefferson. For those who don’t know, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. June 19, 1865 was the day that word finally spread to the Deep South of Galveston, Texas by way of Union soldiers that the enslaved were finally free—even though this was two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (Jan. 1, 1863). Author of one of the most well-known lines in all of United States history, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal…” Jefferson himself was responsible for the enslavement of hundreds of people during his lifetime.

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Poplar Forest: A Tribute to John Hemings

by Eden Wolfer

Eden Wolfer is a rising junior from Wilmington, Delaware. She is majoring in sociology and minoring in education. This is her first summer working for the Race & Racism Project and she is excited to learn from this experience.

The entrance to the Poplar Forest plantation home is well marked from the residential road in Lynchburg, but it is really just a long gravel road through the woods with an occasional glimpse of a golf course to the right and empty fields to the left. There is nothing to indicate you did not drastically mess up somewhere in the last two and a half hour trip. Eventually, the trees part and you can see the beautiful brick facade of Poplar Forest. The property consists of a gift shop, two barns, converted offices, and the actual plantation home; all making up Thomas Jefferson’s retreat plantation.

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The Hidden Gem of Jackson Ward

by Mysia Perry

Mysia Perry is a rising sophomore from Richmond, VA with an intended major in Leadership Studies and minor in Sociology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  She is a part of the WILL* program, Peer Advisors and Mentors,  Planned Parenthood Generation Action, and she is both an Oldham and Oliver Hill Scholar. This is her first summer working on the Race & Racism Project on Team Oral History, and she is very excited to begin working for more equitable environment here at the University of Richmond.

I am always excited and proud to pass the bronze statue on Broad Street and Adams Street in Richmond, Virginia. Maggie Lena Walker’s statue stands at 10-feet, surrounded by the events that led her to be the respected, powerful businesswoman we know her as today. Other feelings consume me when I travel through the Monument Avenue Historic District: disappointment and discomfort. Those statues tower over my car, with the largest totaling over 60 feet tall. Those statues celebrate the enslavement of my ancestors.

When others think of Richmond, it is hard not to concentrate on our city weighing the decision of what to do with the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue. Our identity has been consumed by this, especially after the events of last August in Charlottesville regarding the fate of other Confederate monuments. It is easy to forget about some of the opportunities Richmond held for black people during the Jim Crow era.  I found that as I visited the Maggie L. Walker Historic Site in Jackson Ward, I was able to finally see more than Richmond’s connection to the Civil War.

 

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A Tribute to the Enslaved at Montpelier

by Catherine Franceski

Catherine Franceski is rising junior from Washington, D.C. majoring in Philosophy, Politics, Economics & Law (PPEL) with concentration in politics and minoring in Rhetoric & Communication Studies. She is the president of Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity, and a member of the Westhampton College Honor Council. This is her second year working on the Race & Racism Project. Last summer, she focused on studying the lives and legacies of “hidden” black figures in Richmond, Virginia’s history.

Montpelier is the estate and plantation home of James and Dolley Madison. It is where James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, penned several invaluable documents in America’s history, such as the Virginia Plan, which would provide the groundwork for the U.S. Constitution, and the Federalist Papers. Furthermore, it was also home to a population of more than 100 enslaved persons who waited upon the Madisons and their visitors, maintained the mansion, and labored in the fields.

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A History Unrepresented

by Tucker Shelley

Tucker Shelley is a rising senior at UR from Burlington, Vermont. He is a member of the Theta Chi fraternity on campus. In his free time, Tucker prefers staying active and listening to good music. This is his first summer working on the Race & Racism Project and will continue similar work next semester for Dr. Maurantonio in the “Digital Memory and the Archive” course.

Photo from NPS.

The Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site is a house museum in the mansion that Maggie Lena Walker resided in. Walker was a public figure, civil rights activist, teacher, and the first black, female bank owner. The goal of this house museum is to take you back to Walker’s time and see how life might’ve been for her through the lens of her abode. This house is in Jackson Ward, a historically black neighborhood in downtown Richmond. More specifically, the home is on 2nd Street which was previously known as “The Deuce.” It was a bustling street that was the center of almost all black commerce, warranting its other nicknames: “Black Wall Street” and “Harlem of the South.” Maggie L. Walker embodied this mentality by becoming the first female of any race to charter a bank in the United States. One day in mid-June, I made a visit to this museums in hopes of an enjoyable experience in which I learned something. While I did learn quite a lot about the history of The Deuce and Maggie Walker’s history, it was a rather dull showing.

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Chimborazo Medical Museum

by Eden Wolfer

Eden Wolfer is a rising junior from Wilmington, Delaware. She is majoring in sociology and minoring in education. This is her first summer working for the Race & Racism Project and she is excited to learn from this experience.

I had never been to Church Hill until going for this site visit–exploring the city is hard when relying entirely on University of Richmond for transportation. So I asked my friend, a history major with just enough interest in the Civil War, to make a museum trip on a hot afternoon (a better plan than laying in bed), to come with me to the Chimborazo Medical Museum. We got lunch and walked the five blocks to the museum.

We got to the park and saw on the top of the hill a building labeled Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitors Center. I was greeted by an older man, “Welcome to Chimborazo! If you’re looking for a battlefield, I’m sorry but this is it.” I asked what he meant and he explained that most of the historical tourists that came to visit were looking for a battlefield, the name of the building being a misnomer. He explained that the first floor of the building was the museum, “we’ve got some pretty gory stuff in that room there, a fifteen minute video, and a model of what the hospital would have looked like back in the day. This building wasn’t the hospital you see it was actually a weather station, used to launch weather balloons off the roof.”

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