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Special Event

Public Summit - Memory, Mourning, Mobilization: Legacies of Slavery and Freedom in America

West Lawn of Monticello
Saturday, September 17, 2016 - 10:00am to 12:30pm

Video of the full ceremony »

The Monticello Summit was the capstone event of Human/Ties, a four-day celebration of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ 50th anniversary, organized by NEH and the University of Virginia. All programming was free and open to the public. Additional details are available on humanties2016.comOn September 17th, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello hosted a public summit on “Memory, Mourning, Mobilization: Legacies of Slavery and Freedom in America.” Historians, descendants of those enslaved at Monticello, cultural leaders, and activists engaged in a far-ranging dialogue on the history of slavery and its meaning in today’s conversations on race, freedom, and equality. The summit was rooted in the power of place at Monticello – now a United Nations World Heritage Site and National Historic Landmark, once home to Thomas Jefferson, his family, and hundreds of enslaved men, women, and children.  

For decades, Monticello historians and archaeologists have studied the oral, documentary, and material histories of enslaved families and their descendants – chronicling their challenges and triumphs, and adding an essential human dimension to the study of slavery. With these stories at the forefront, Monticello served as a poignant setting to remember, mourn, and mobilize for equality. 

Edward L. Ayers
Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities, President Emeritus at the University of Richmond, and recipient of the National Humanities Medal.

Melody Barnes
Former Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council

Jamelle Bouie
Chief Political Correspondent at Slate Magazine

Marian Wright Edelman
Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, author and lifelong advocate for disadvantaged Americans, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Alphonse Fletcher University Professor & Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, cultural critic, journalist, and host of Finding Your Roots

Deborah E. McDowell
Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies and the Alice Griffin Professor of Literary Studies at the University of Virginia; member of the President’s Commission on Slavery at the University of Virginia

Jon Meacham
Presidential historian, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Contributing Editor at TIME, and Executive Editor at Random House; Trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello

Annette Gordon-Reed
Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, Professor of History at Harvard University, and recipient of the National Humanities Medal; in 2008, Gordon-Reed won the Pulitzer Prize for History and 15 other major awards for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

Bree Newsome
Award-winning filmmaker, writer, composer, community activist and organizer; in 2015, Newsome famously scaled the flagpole in front of the South Carolina Statehouse to remove the Confederate flag

Peter S. Onuf
A leading scholar of Jefferson and the early American republic, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Virginia, and Senior Research Fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello

Lucia Stanton
Monticello’s Shannon Senior Historian Emeritus and founder of the Getting Word oral history project; expert on the enslaved families of Monticello

Gayle Jessup White
Monticello’s Community Engagement Officer, and a Hemings and Jefferson descendant

Special appearances the Community Performance Project and the Union Run Baptist Church Choir.


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