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Memorial to Enslaved Laborers
Charlottesville, Virginia

The Memorial to Enslaved Laborers (MEL) at the University of Virginia honors the lives, labor, and perseverance of the community of enslaved African Americans who built UVA and sustained daily life of faculty, students, and administrators at the University. The memorial, the result of a collaborative design process involving UVA students, the Charlottesville community, and descendents of the enslaved, is sited in the valley on the east side of the Lawn, directly east of Jefferson’s famous rotunda. It sits in an area called the Triangle of Grass, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and along University Avenue that connects to downtown Charlottesville. Our final landscape site plan indicates passage of time. The memorial itself is oriented to the North and the Northern escape path is marked by 48 granite stones referencing the 48 years that the University held slaves. The diagonal brick path leading the memorial aligns with the angle of the setting sun on March 3, Liberation and Freedom Day. The circular lawn is planted with flowering crocus bulbs that will bloom in February, which is Black History month, and continue through March 3rd. After the flowers fade, the lawn will return to a space for gathering.

Photos: Alan Karchmer; Sanjay Suchak, University of Virginia Communication

Collaborators:
Höweler + Yoon, Architect
Eto Otitigbe, Artist
Mabel O. Wilson, Historian/Critic + Designer
Frank Dukes, Community Engagement

Memorial to Enslaved Laborers

Charlottesville, Virginia

The Memorial to Enslaved Laborers (MEL) at the University of Virginia honors the lives, labor, and perseverance of the community of enslaved African Americans who built UVA and sustained daily life of faculty, students, and administrators at the University. The memorial, the result of a collaborative design process involving UVA students, the Charlottesville community, and descendents of the enslaved, is sited in the valley on the east side of the Lawn, directly east of Jefferson’s famous rotunda. It sits in an area called the Triangle of Grass, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and along University Avenue that connects to downtown Charlottesville. Our final landscape site plan indicates passage of time. The memorial itself is oriented to the North and the Northern escape path is marked by 48 granite stones referencing the 48 years that the University held slaves. The diagonal brick path leading the memorial aligns with the angle of the setting sun on March 3, Liberation and Freedom Day. The circular lawn is planted with flowering crocus bulbs that will bloom in February, which is Black History month, and continue through March 3rd. After the flowers fade, the lawn will return to a space for gathering.

Photos: Alan Karchmer; Sanjay Suchak, University of Virginia Communication