Join us for a special Juneteenth event at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: “Ascendant: The Power of Descendant Communities to Shape Our Stories, Places, and Future.”

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Part of a two-day event to honor Monticello's Getting Word community and the rededication of the Burial Ground for Enslaved People, this public program will highlight the importance of descendant voices in the telling of American history—voices that have often been marginalized, or left out completely.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Unable to attend in person? Join the event livestream on our Facebook pagewebsite, or YouTube channel. 

Ascendant is just one of many local Juneteenth events. Explore other powerful programs and activities in the Charlottesville area.

Event Schedule

  • Performance by contempo world jazz musician Karen Briggs Kuartet
     

Opening conversation

  • Leslie Greene Bowman, President, TJF
  • Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation
  • William “Bill” Webb, Getting Word Descendant and Member of the Getting Word Advisory Committee
  • Melody Barnes, Chair, Thomas Jefferson Foundation (TJF) and Executive Director of the Karsh Institute of Democracy and W.L. Lyons Brown Family Director for Policy and Public Engagement at the Democracy Initiative, University of Virginia (Moderator)
     
  • Michael Blakey, National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Anthropology, Africana Studies, and American Studies, College of William & Mary
  • Peter Cook, Design Principal at HGA Architects & Engineers
  • Brian Palmer, Peabody Award-winning journalist
  • Brent Leggs, Executive Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (Moderator)

    Closing poetry from Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely, Poet, Activist, Getting Word Descendant, and Getting Word Advisory Committee Member, accompanied by Angela Niles, Musician and Getting Word Descendant, on drums
     
  • Niya Bates, Ph.D. Candidate, History Department and Department of African American Studies at Princeton University
  • Andrew Davenport, Getting Word Descendant, TJF Public Historian and Director of the Getting Word African American Oral History Project and Ph.D. Candidate, History Department, Georgetown University
  • Justin Reid, Director of Community Initiatives, Virginia Humanities
  • Hannah Scruggs, Public Historian
  • Gayle Jessup White, Getting Word Descendant, and Public Relations & Community Engagement Officer (Moderator)
     

Performance by contempo world jazz musician Karen Briggs Kuartet
 

  • Ava DuVernay, Writer, Director, and Filmmaker
  • Sarah Lewis, Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture and African and African American Studies at Harvard University; Founder of The Vision & Justice Project
  • Wynton Marsalis, Musician, Composer, Bandleader, Educator, and Advocate of American Culture
  • Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely, Poet, Activist, Getting Word Descendant, and Getting Word Advisory Committee member
  • Melody Barnes, Chair, TJF, and Executive Director of the Karsh Institute of Democracy and W.L. Lyons Brown Family Director for Policy and Public Engagement at the Democracy Initiative, University of Virginia (Moderator)
     
  • Annette Gordon-Reed, Trustee, TJF, and Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University
  • Clint Smith, Author and Staff Writer at The Atlantic
  • Leslie Greene Bowman, President, TJF
  • J. Calvin Jefferson, Getting Word Descendant
  • Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

Event Speakers

Photos & Bios
We are honored to welcome more than twenty speakers to this event. Explore their biographies. Learn More
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Register to Attend

Register Online
This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register now

Frequently Asked Questions »

Find answers to questions about parking, house tours, food trucks, security, and more.


Artwork on Display

June 18 – July 10
Artwork on display from groundbreaking painter Titus Kaphar, including a piece commissioned especially for “Ascendant,” and mixed media artist and "Getting Word" descendant Jabari Jefferson. Learn more about the artists and their work

Local Events

CPG Presents: Topdog/Underdog

Sunday, June 19 - Charlottesville Players Guild will present a staged reading of Topdog / Underdog by Suzan Lori Parks. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. show begins at 7p.m.

Getting Word African American Oral History Project

“This is how the word is passed down,” said a descendant of Monticello’s African American community. He and other descendants have shared stories handed down over generations. Now their Monticello ancestors are “getting word” to us today about their lives, their families, and their dreams.


With Special Thanks to Our Sponsors

Ford Foundation

Mellon Foundation

Mitchell and Emily Rales

Mrs. Nancy Cain Marcus Robertson and Mr. Sanford Robertson

John A. Griffin Foundation, Inc.

Skyline Tent Company