A circular stone wall, open at one section, rises from an open green area of the University of Virginia’s Grounds east of Brooks Hall and across from the Corner. Within this circle, a stone bench provides opportunity for quiet reflection, especially when reading the names inscribed on the interior wall – names of enslaved laborers who worked to build and sustain the University.

This is the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, featuring the “Freedom Ring” designed to commemorate the contributions of enslaved workers.

The Board of Visitors Buildings and Grounds Committee on Friday approved the schematic design and location, developed and presented by a design team that has worked on the project for months. The vote authorizes the team to move forward for “further development and construction,” according to the board resolution.

“Our decision to create a memorial to enslaved workers is an expression of our shared commitment to tell the full story of the University’s past, as we look toward its future,” UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan said. 

In fall 2016, the Board of Visitors selected the Boston firm Höweler+Yoon to design the memorial, and added three other individuals to the design team: Frank Dukes, co-founder of University & Community Action for Racial Equity and past director of the Institute for Environmental Negotiation in the UVA School of Architecture; alumna Mabel O. Wilson, an architectural historian at Columbia University who recently published, “Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture”; and Gregg Bleam, a landscape architect who has taught at UVA and worked in and around the University for about 30 years.

Read the full story on UVA Today.