Memorial to the Enslaved

One of William & Mary’s core values is belonging. As we strive to create a welcoming and caring community that embraces diverse people and perspectives, we must also acknowledge that our aspirations for the full realization of belonging as a university tenet have not yet been achieved.

Education and awareness about our university’s history are essential as we seek to reconcile our past, create greater equity and unite around a shared vision for a more just future. To help fulfill this vision, William & Mary will erect the Memorial to the Enslaved as a distinguished landmark of inclusion and a local hub for community building.

The Memorial emerged as a key priority of The Lemon Project: A Journey of Reconciliation, which was established by the Board of Visitors in 2009 in response to a call from students and faculty to create a commission to research and publicly report the university's role in slavery and to erect a memorial to the contributions of enslaved people at W&M. Planning for the memorial formally began in 2014.

Building on our decade-long effort to research and rectify William & Mary’s slaveholding history, the Memorial will function as a striking focal point as we work to redefine the narrative around our collective history. By helping to catalyze dialogue and advance understanding, it will serve as:

  • A powerful educational tool: to extend lessons of the past to contemporary issues, including immigration, human rights and cultural and political polarization.
  • A dynamic center for research: to investigate and address the legacies of slavery and offer a more complete historical account of the foundational years of our nation.
  • A hub for community engagement: to conduct public tours and courses that allow us to teach the value and skill of civil dialogue and respect for divergent opinions.
  • A beautiful piece of socially engaged art: to inspire reflection on our history and facilitate the process of mutual healing around racism and slavery.

Located in the heart of campus, the hearth will offer a constant reminder of the importance of belonging to our community and inspire others to emulate the courage and resilience of those it honors. The inviting structure is envisioned as a powerful beacon of welcome – reinforcing the long-held belief that those who come here belong here.

Help Us Remember, Honor and Move Forward

Currently under design with the Richmond-based Baskervill Architects, the construction of the Memorial may begin as early as fall 2020 and be completed by summer 2021. With your generous support, we can create a vibrant space that celebrates hope, healing and reconciliation. Please give today.

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Just as the enslaved labored to erect William & Mary, we will now build for them, brick by brick – using masonry emblematic of our campus – a monumental “hearth.”
The Memorial will be prominently located on our historic campus to the west of the Christopher Wren building.
The Memorial will be prominently located on our historic campus to the southwest of the Christopher Wren building.
The Memorial will be prominently located on our historic campus to the west of the Christopher Wren building.
The hearth resembles a brick fireplace, representing both a place of work for the enslaved and a place of gathering and community. The names of those enslaved at William & Mary will be emblazoned on bricks jutting commandingly from the wall to recognize the role those individuals played in building the university and to help restore their humanity. As research identifies new names, we will continue to inscribe them in the bricks, thereby creating a living memorial.
The design for this 22-foot structure, created by alumnus William Sendor ’11, was selected through an open and anonymous competition that attracted 84 submissions from around the globe.
The design for this 22-foot structure, created by alumnus William Sendor ’11, was selected through an open and anonymous competition that attracted 84 submissions from around the globe.
The Memorial will be prominently located on our historic campus to the west of the Christopher Wren building.
An occasional ceremonial fire in the hearth will figuratively rekindle the memory of the enslaved and radiate freedom and hope for the future, while physically illuminating a place to reflect on the university’s past.
  •   Mark L. Begly,  Associate Vice President for Development and Campaign Director
  •   757-221-1370
  •   mlbegly@wm.edu
  •   Luiza Newlin-Lukowicz,  Senior Director, Corporate & Foundation Relations
  •   757-221-1036
  •   lnewlinlukowic@wm.edu