Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Saturday, Jun 22, 2024

The people once enslaved by George Mason are now being honored on the university's campus

The Enslaved People of George Mason Memorial recognizes that the school's founder enslaved more than 100 people.

A statue at George Mason University that students are known to rub for good luck and take graduation photos with is now surrounded by a new memorial that honors the people the school's namesake enslaved.

George Mason University unveiled the memorial this week as part of the institution's attempt to reckon with the complicated legacy of George Mason IV.

Mason, a prominent figure in Virginia's history, is well known for crafting the state's Declaration of Rights, which later influenced the U.S. Bill of Rights. He also enslaved more than 100 people, many of whom were children, at Gunston Hall Plantation.

But the fact was not widely known by many students until 2017, when a group of undergraduates and faculty members began researching the everyday lives of enslaved people who lived and worked at his home, said George D. Oberle III, director of the Center for Mason Legacies.

While some historians had believed Mason was against slavery because he advocated against the trans-Atlantic slave trade, documents like Mason's will show he did not free any of the people he enslaved upon his death.

ENSLAVED LABOR BUILT THESE UNIVERSITIES:Now they are starting to repay the debt

After completing the project, students wanted to memorialize the people they'd studied, so they worked with architects to design a memorial over the course of two years. On Monday, it was dedicated during a celebration of the schools' 50th anniversary.

At nearly 300 feet, the memorial has two panels: one features Penny, an enslaved girl Mason gave to his daughter, and 81 names of other people who were enslaved by Mason. The other panel depicts James, described as Mason's "personal assistant."

The memorial is built around a decades-old statue of Mason that is part of many campus traditions, said Wendi Manuel-Scott, a professor of integrative studies and history.

She said one of the first things the group told administrators is that they did not want to remove the Mason statute but rather add context to it.

They added four quotes to the base of a statue of Mason to highlight four aspects of his life: a legal scholar, a father, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and an enslaver.

Manuel-Scott said they also added a bronze replica of a brick found at Gunston Hall, which archaeologists believe contain an imprint from the hands of an enslaved person.

"That was incredibly symbolic, a way of honoring and critically caring for and making known the labor and the contribution of enslaved people to the wealth of George Mason," she said. "And perhaps even calling us to consider the contribution of enslaved people to the foundations of America."

Oberle said he was "blown away" when the memorial was unveiled this week.

"I was overwhelmed," he said. "It's still hard for me to believe that it's there and that we have tried to reclaim the voice of these long forgotten people."

The memorial is the centerpiece of the recently renovated Wilkins Plaza, which is named after Dr. Roger Wilkins, a Black civil rights leader, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Mason professor. The site includes a fountain featuring a quote from Wilkins lined with stones in a circular pattern that Manuel-Scott said symbolizes a collection of shells and stones found at Gunston Hall that is believed to have cultural and spiritual meaning.

RACIAL RECKONING ON CAMPUS:Predominantly white colleges tackle racism, diversity, equity and inclusion

In recent years, many schools including The University of Virginia, Harvard and others have started to acknowledge and atone for relying on the labor of enslaved Black people and accepting donations from plantation owners.

George Mason President Gregory Washington said in a statement to USA TODAY the memorial "conveys the values and actions of George Mason University in the 21st century. We grow wiser from examining our full truths, no matter how complicate, messy or discomforting they might be.”

Manuel-Scott echoed that sentiment, saying she hopes each time people visit the memorial they see something new and develop a deeper understanding of the history behind it.

"My hope is that Penny and James and the ancestors more broadly, that they wherever they are, are smiling down on us, knowing that we have done our best to honor them," she said.


Related Articles

Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner