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Jefferson School’s African American Heritage Center Honors Service Legacy of Seven Black-Led Organizations in Charlottesville – The Cavalier Daily

The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center draws the attention of community members to Days of Liberation and Freedom for the fifth time since the celebration’s inception in 2017. After winning $25,000 from last year’s race, this year JSAAHC aims to raise $45,000 to help support Black-led organizations in Charlottesville , with primary funding coming from those who sign up to run or walk a course through Charlottesville between March 1 and March 6.

Organizations expected to receive funding from the race cover areas of interest ranging from radio to public housing, technology and coding to education. Once race fees are paid, all donations will be divided equally between the organizations.

The run is to mark Liberation and Freedom Day, a holiday celebrated annually on March 3 that is unique to the city of Charlottesville. Holidays were first famous in 2017 to commemorate March 3-6 – the days in 1865 when Union troops arrived in Charlottesville. There, university and city officials surrendered to Union troops at the university chapel. As they left, many enslaved laborers followed the Union troops north through Virginia, escape slavery.

Much of the history of Liberation and Freedom Days was lost to history until 2016, when the Charlottesville City Council research a commission to tell a fuller story of Charlottesville’s history. On May 28 of that year, the Council approved a resolution to create the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces with the task of “identifying additional opportunities within the city to enhance a holistic reflection of our history.” The Commission then vote unanimously to submit a recommendation to the Council to designate March 3 to 6 as Liberation and Freedom Days.

This year, funds from the JSAAHC fundraiser will be directed to 101.3 Jamza Charlottesville-area radio station that plays urban and R&B music, the African American Teaching Fellowswhich aims to address the racial disparity in the number of black teachers in schools, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Centerwhose mission is to help preserve the honor and heritage of African Americans in the Charlottesville area, the Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACPthe Charlottesville Public Housing Residents Associationwho advocates for and with Charlottesville-area residents in social housing, the Black-run Vinegar Hill Magazine and We also codea programming and coding program that aims to increase the number of black and brown girls in technology.

“All of these organizations are led by black leaders and directly serve the community,” said Andrea Douglas, executive director of the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, in an email to the Cavalier Daily.

Registrations for the race opened on February 6 and will remain open until the last day of the race. Individuals can register and donate to the event as well as do their own fundraising to help support the cause.

The race route is substantial – 9.03 hilly miles through the city that takes runners and walkers past some of the city’s most important black-owned businesses and significant sites in African-American history. Participants will then follow the course after the Memorial to bonded laborerswhich was unveiled in April 2021.

Passing through Grounds, the race crosses both the Kitty Foster Memorial outside Nau Hall and the African American cemetery located at the corner of McCormick Rd. and Alderman Rd.

The monument commemorates Kitty Foster, a free African American woman and community leader from Charlottesville who tended land just south of the university between 1833 and her death in 1863. On her death – 43 years after Foster’s release slavery – Foster passed the land to his descendants, who held it until 1906.

The Kitty Foster Memorial is a metal skeleton of what Foster’s property once looked like and marks the spot where 32 graves of Foster and her descendants were excavated in the 1990s. During the day, shadows from the structure give visitors feel like they are walking through Foster’s house.

Further up the road on Alderman Rd. is where, in 2012, work crews constructed the largest cemetery adjacent to McCormick Rd. revealed a series of graves belonging to enslaved laborers who worked at the University. In total, excavation teams have uncovered 67 graves from the original cemetery established in 1828, two years after the first class of students arrived at the University.

The University was built and maintained by enslaved laborers between the start of construction in 1817 and the end of the Civil War in 1865. During those decades, more than 4,000 enslaved laborers built the University from the ground up – laying bricks, hewing quarried stone and terracing of the lawn – and kept the University running by doing student laundry, cooking for faculty and students, and blacksmithing, among other roles.

The Slave Labor Memorial, located between the Rotunda and the Coin, pays tribute to the lives of the more than 4,000 enslaved laborers who built and ran the day-to-day activities of the University between 1817 and 1865. The Presidential Commission on Slavery and the University, established in 2013, worked with construction crews and descendants of slaves to create a community-accessible memorial. After a year report of the dedication due to COVID-19, the memorial was officially dedicated in April 2021.

“The event’s 9.7-mile course allows you to appreciate some of Charlottesville’s hills, engage with some of the city’s African-American businesses, and most importantly, learn about our history. local African-American”, the race the description bed.

Last year, the Days of Liberation and Freedom events were organized by the JSAAHC and the Descendants of enslaved communities at University. DEC an event included pre-filmed performances and conversations between descendants of University slaves as well as a virtual tour of the Memorial to bonded laborers.

JSAAHC’s 2021 Liberation and Freedom Days celebration included 12 events starting from February 28 last year. The Liberation and Freedom Days 2021 event also included a repair run or walk.

Janette B. Martin, president of the NAACP of Albemarle-Charlottesville, said celebrating Liberation and Freedom Days was important to remember the county’s history with slavery. By the end of the Civil War, more than 53%—14,000 of a total of 26,000—of the residents of Charlottesville and Albemarle County were enslavedaccording to JSAAHC.

Eager to support its next generation, the Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP will direct any funds raised to its youth group, which it considers crucial to continuing the work of the NAACP in the future.

“We use the funds we raise through the March for Liberation and Freedom to support youth programs, trainings and conventions,” Martin said.

Jaquan Middleton, program director at 101.3 Jamz – the leading urban music and R&B station in Charlottesville – said celebrating the holidays is hugely important.

“It’s really important to stay grounded and know your story and where you’re coming from and what people are trying to do to make our lives better right now,” Middleton said.

Middleton said the station used funds from last year’s race to improve their website and modernize their studio. This time around, station management hopes to use the money to boost its presence in the Charlottesville community by buying a wrapped van that can be used for community events like backpack giveaways, which the station hosts. already.

“101 Jamz will always continue to be a factor in the community, and we appreciate you shining a light on what we do here,” Middleton said.

Douglas expressed his strong belief in the work being done by each recipient organization, noting that the staff and volunteers of these organizations work tirelessly to benefit the greater Charlottesville community.

“Together they reach out to the media, housing, education and civil action sectors,” Douglas said in an emailed statement to the Cavalier Daily. “Although they do the work of a yeoman, they have a small staff and although some have dedicated fundraising staff, the majority do not.”

JSAAHC’s fundraising efforts have become a vital part of efforts to recognize African American history in Charlottesville. Ahead of the Liberation and Freedom Day festivities, the fundraiser will help bring attention to the celebrations of freedom and community and elevate the organizations that form its foundation.

“After years of slavery, being freed and allowed to express your freedom is something that will always be remembered and celebrated,” Martin said.