Skip to main content

tv   Lectures in History Slave Labor in 19th Century Virginia  CSPAN  September 7, 2022 12:50pm-2:03pm EDT

12:50 pm
if you are enjoying american history tv sign up for a newsletter is in the qr code on the tva to receive the weekly schedule of upcoming lectures in history, the presidency, and more. sign up the erectness tv newsletter and watch american history tv every saturday, or anytime online at slash history. welcome, welcome, history 3:27, arts history students. you know me. i am professor april. we are here to have a guest lecture, president of stony brook university, laurie mcinnis. i would like to tell you a little about her. the title of dr. mcguinness's lecture is slavery, and public life. this is relevant not only to our inquiry into how the
12:51 pm
arts can be researched as, a window into the past, but, it is in james baldwin. and that is nearly to the past and that is what they do the lecture itself was inspired by students in virginia. how the labor of enslaved people help to create that institution doctor mcguinness is the cultural historian and particularly the politics she is an award-winning author, coauthor, and editor of six books slaves
12:52 pm
waiting for sale, abolitionist art, in the american slave trade. and, educated in tyranny, and jefferson's university, for which he won the charles c eldritch books prize from the smithsonian american art museum. doctor mcinnis, receiving her b. a. at the university of virginia and, attended yale university, where she earned a ph. d. in art history. she is both an academic, and a public scholar. she is a lecturer, adviser, a curator at numerous art museums, and of course, the sixth president of stony brook university. this mantra to steve, president mcinnis. >> good morning. thank you so much professor, for letting me have the opportunity to speak with your class today. i am thrilled to be here. i know,
12:53 pm
the semester, you have been focused on what works of art, architecture, and objects can reveal about the past. how it is that art can be an important historical document that, often, reveals those found in written documents. often, images, and places, is on an emotional level, and on a human level. in addition, it is going to the much broader audience, in talking about historical issues, which still have great resonance today. as scholars, and historians, we find ourselves at a moment when our voices, when our interventions, are more needed than ever. looking at my own area of scholarship, many contemporary topics in the headlines today. sexual violence, racialized
12:54 pm
police brutality, mass incarceration, racial injustice, political polarization, and all have deep, historical roots. conversations about a pathway forward, often, require that we first grapple with the past, in order to understand it's lingering legacies into the president. my years in the classroom have helped me understand the ways in which my research, in 19th americans south, as a deep resonance with issues of the president. i have worked with historic sites, and museums, on projects that were tied to local conversations about racial division, and injustice, memory, and symbolization, and it is a more inclusive future. i will also
12:55 pm
add, in my experience, the engagement has been among the most rewarding in our career. it is largely a solitary pursuit. the exhibitions i have been involved with have been enriched by the many ideas, and many different voices at the table. and working closely with community members, and in working with those not connected with higher for their input. so, today, i education, i have come to understand what is of greatest importance to them, and how our work will have a real impact on issues that matter to them, and all of my scholarship is richer for their input. so, today, i want to share with you two projects that were intended to engage the public, broadly. by using local places, and local issues, which were simultaneously connected to national conversations. i have found, for many people, the national, and the abstract, can be made more concrete, emotional, and
12:56 pm
tangible. by connecting it to real spaces, in a once local setting. to be more specific, much of the united states has a history that is deeply entangled with the history of enslavement, including, right here, on long island, and throughout the north. yet, in most towns, and cities, the physical remnants of that history has been removed, for the face, and the obliterated. these histories are alive in the mystery of descendants. they often leave scars on the landscape, and echoes that reverberate today. the work for these histories going forward, and the work of making things visible, and that which has been obscured and has been a vital step in the process of remembering, reconciling, and moving forward towards a more inclusive future. the first
12:57 pm
project began in a scholarly way is in 2011 by the university of chicago. it was inspired by a series of paintings, and images, made by a british artist named eric crow, after his visit to america. they were all set in richmond virginia. it is human trafficking in the 1850s. what is particularly remarkable, about these images, is the very few images made by an artist, who had himself, witnessed, a slave auction. as a scholar, interested in the lived experience, i wanted to know what these images can tell us about the american slave trade,
12:58 pm
that went beyond with the documents could, also, reveal about that history. it was with the international slave trade. the forcibly enslavement of 11 million african, sold into slavery in the new world. around 500,000 of whom, ending up in one, to eventually, became the united states. but, the american slave trade is what happened after the u.s. ended its participation in the international slave trade, in 1808. after that, and robust trade emerged, selling people from the states of the upper south, especially maryland, and virginia, to the states of the lower south, think louisiana, mississippi, alabama. in response to the rising demand of labor, the demand of the southwest opened up to cotton
12:59 pm
cultivation. in this trade, nearly two thirds of 1 million people were sold away from their families, and relocated hundreds of miles away, never to see their family members again. it is the story of, how the american southwest settled. places, and objects, have a way of connecting us this really, and emotionally, with the past. i felt that these images would prove an important window into that history. i thought, with enough research, i might be able to find out, exactly, where the painter visited. what he had seen. i was hoping to use those spaces, to educate virginians about the horrors that had occurred there. i, especially, hope that i might be able to trace something of the lives of the people he
1:00 pm
represented. to understand the images, i needed to understand what the painter had seen. that research was like trying to piece together a complicated puzzle, with many pieces missing. directory listings, newspaper listings, property newspaper listings, property deed research, the occasional deed research, the occasional list of people sold by traitorous, helping me, ultimately, to map the part of the city where this tree took place. helped me figure out where the jailers, and auctioneers, had their places of business in 1853, when the painter was there. then, i wanted to connect that to the contemporary landscape. with that reconstructed landscape in my head, using the painters description of his visit to the city, i could, then, figure out where crow walked, and, therefore, what he would have
1:01 pm
seen. through that cultural mapping, compare richmond's experience with other cities. looking for the lingering shadows of slavery in today's richmond proved a much more elusive. as the landscape had been forever altered by the addition, first, at the railroad, and second, at the interstate. as was so often the case when interstates were added in the 1950s, little heat was given to the land that belonged to, or held, the history of african americans. that is, certainly, true in richmond. i-95 terrace through the area the which is where the traders had their businesses. as i was starting my research, the city had begun its exploration of a place known to have served as a slave jail, and robert lumpkin. on the
1:02 pm
human traffic, or in more than two decades in richmond. the bank above it is i-95, this is what they believe was the footprint of robert blood cans jail. so, they began to dig, hoping to find something of this area, that we had, actual, period evidence for. their team dug down, and through infill, they were running into the remnant of creeks that used to flow their, and the constant flooding that they had to contend with. what they found were the footings of the original buildings, this unbelievable courtyard which had run the buildings, and were held in this jail, and it was weeks, or months, before they held their faith. it allowed us,
1:03 pm
ultimately, it is to reconstruct what the lumpkin property must have looked like. the only memorial, and the city of richmond, in 2011, was this monument called, the reconciliation statue. it was intended to connect the city of richmond, with liverpool. but, that revealed the confusion in the city had about what slave trade had taken place there. because, when richmond heard slave trade, they thought, the international slave trade. yet, richmond wasn't even a town in 1808, when the slave trade and did. the story of human trafficking, in richmond, is of the this row in the american slave trade, and a statue
1:04 pm
connecting richmond, to new orleans, and mississippi, which would be more precise. early on in the research for my book, we got involved in conversations about the role of the slave trade and, the city's history. the power of place in bearing witness to that story. other than the statue, and the archaeological investigation that would soon be reburied, the city of richmond had a very different memorial landscape. the richmond, in the capital of the confederacy, tell the public landscape should be dominated by the substantial presence of the lost cause. a presence that included the has civil war monuments, and was kept alive of those who claimed heritage. it quickly became evident to me that i had an opportunity, and i would say, an obligation, about where they
1:05 pm
signed, and known, to richmond nurse. it is no one allusion that they would read my book. i found my partner, and began to work on an exhibition. my book had centered on exploring both the material experience of those fourth forced into the trade, in the way in which they further the abolitionist cause. i believed, in exhibition can help the city of richmond acknowledge, and confront this city's role in human trafficking for the 19th century. it is state archives, and a place willing to take on an exhibition, that was expected to be quite controversial, given the the reluctance of power to talk, honestly, about the cities
1:06 pm
slave trade in the past. so, as part of our planning is part of the focus groups, and invited educational leaders, church leaders, and members of the city council, and civic activists, are multiple meetings are some input on the plans. richmond, was in the middle of the civil war. then, in some cities, like charleston south carolina, the anniversary was initially greeted, as it had been, 50 years earlier, at the time of the centennial. with visions of hoopskirts, moonlight, and magnolias. the ghost of scarlett o'hara, and the power of gone with the wind, not far from the celebrations. we wanted the images painted by eric crow, to play an important role in the exhibit. it was showing them crows painting,
1:07 pm
and the other top missing artifact we expected to include in the exhibition. what we quickly learned is that the images, and the intended meeting and the 19th century did not convey to modern audiences. it was quite quickly we learned how little trust the african american community had that a state agency would be willing to tell such an important story with honesty. it was a story they had known for decades, on an emotional level, and the ripping apart of families. but, it had so long been obliterated from the landscape, and from history books, and denied by those in power, that they were suspicious how we would handle it. they were our partners, and
1:08 pm
they guided us, in finding ways to tell a raw, powerful story, and they remained our important partners as the project progressed. it was in part of the city's reckoning, and the american civil war, it was to coincide with the end of the war. so, before our exhibition opened, the city became laser focused on the richmond slave trade. it is the mayor who proposed a significant development for the land there. the proposal included plans for a museum, over the lumpkin site. but, one that would be paid for, in part, buy money from commercial development. it would include a baseball stadium, for the minor league richmond teen, hotels, and
1:09 pm
other commercial, and residential structures. newspaper articles, and them didn't open forums to educate richmond on this history. it was the entire landscape, and was trying to contribute help make richmond or's understood the history that's at stake here. very quickly, opposition arose, and is so close to the site of human suffering. when the exhibition opened, he was still a lively, debated topic. the exhibition itself, viewed by tens of thousands. it was more than ever had been made before. many more than had bought my book, and it was made to the libraries available in the state. the library and virginia had voluminous records related to the slave trade,
1:10 pm
documents, and artifacts, that ample e demonstrate the scale of trade to those who had still may have tried it scale in richmond. the city that was by the 1840s, and 50s, is the south. it was the largest, economic industry in the city, in the period. so, we wanted to connect the exhibitors -- the visitors at the exhibit, then more than just paper. it was more than just crows images, and a visit to the city, that was the best way to do that. so just heard images from the 19th century had been powerful in the fight against slavery. it is -- so to our image isn't hard
1:11 pm
artifacts in telling that history today. we wanted to help modern audiences connect to these images. so i had worked with a group of scholars, at the university of richmond, and the digital scholars lab, to try to reconstruct richmond, in 1853. because, by now, this area of richmond, modern richmond, is officers, and skyscrapers, in the interstate. a very modern landscape. so, we knew what we used about real buildings, and this is a photograph of one of the longest used auction houses, where people were sold. then, to use that as a basis, to recreate richmond, in 1853. the richmond that air crow visited. so we created multiple interactive exhibits, many with voice recording, reading from period documents, other
1:12 pm
interactive is explaining details, and images, and in one short video, that i want to show you, it was our culmination. if you were to watch three minutes at the exhibit, this, hopefully, helped pull it all together. it is drawn from what the artist wrote about what he had seen and richmond, when he was there. so, let me play this. >> on a cold march day, in 1853, air crow arrived at the railroad depot on broad street. he made his way past the state capital, to his lodgings at the american hotel, on main street. >> on the 3rd of march, 1853, is a date well imprinted on my memory. i was sitting at an early breakfast, by myself, reading the abe lincoln local newspaper. it was not, however, the leaders, or politics, which attracted my eye, so much as the advertisement columns, containing the announcements of slave sales. some of which, were to take place that morning, on wall street, close at hand,
1:13 pm
at 11:00. arming myself with pencil, and a slipper to have paper, and putting these carefully into my pocket, i salad fourth on to the high street, and walked hundreds of yards down its steep declivity. i turned up one of the narrowest tallies of the many abutting points of the high street. the sales take place here with indoors, up on the ground floor of the houses, for a number. outside the doors are hung small, garish flags, of blood red, upon which are pinned small manuscript descriptions of the negros to be successively disposed of. >> once on wall street, crow went into the room of the first auction taking place, probably in the room of podium and davis. the auction was already underway when he arrived. >> on the platform, the dealer pointed to a young negress nearly 15, or 16 years of age, standing on the side. holding a
1:14 pm
petticoat on the ground, immediately beneath, stood black health, or assistant, who looked around at the bitterness as the sum kept swelling from six, seven, to $800. i saw, one after the other, the inmates of this first auction room purchased, at various prices. >> crow then moved with the crown to the second auction room, and then to the third. either that of our h dickinson and brothers, or n b, and cb hill, on the corner of franklin, and wall street. he sketches the scene of a group of people seated on pensions before the start of the sale. >> i do not hesitate to pronounce this get the -- spectacle who had presented itself to be the most touching, which could be will reveal to the site. i found in it, a perfect composition. in a hardly justifiable fit of enthusiasm, one time and place are considered, i took out pencil, and paper. >> his sketching aroused significant scrutiny. he was eventually chased out of the
1:15 pm
auction room, as they were convinced he was an abolitionist. crow, quickly, wandered back down wall street, and blended into the crowd on main street. what he missed seeing where the multiple jail complexes near the auction rooms, where people were held before sale. the most notorious of these, lumpkin's jail, was a block north, on wall street. as crow continued to explore the city, he once again, encountered the slave trade, perhaps unexpectedly, and the railroad terminal on eight straight. here, recently, those who had been purchased on wall street are being forced into railroad cars, and wagons, from a long journey, further southward. >> we saw the usual exodus of negroe slaves, marched under the escort of the new owners, across the town, to the railway station, where they took places, and went south. >> in the years since the exhibition was up, in 2015, the
1:16 pm
mayor's proposal for the baseball stadium was defeated. conversations have continued. since then, the city, and, the now mayor, a different mayor, have recently proposed a new development plan for the area. one that has listened to the community. this proposal, centering around the memorialization of important, african american historical sites. a museum, and cultural revitalization, of this part of the city, that is more inclusive. it is not clear whether this proposal will, ultimately, move forward, but it is clear that the conversations are more respectful of the history that took place in this part of richmond. the city has moved forward, and other deeply symbolic, and picks difficult ways. throughout the city, the monuments that exerted white power, and jim crow
1:17 pm
segregation. those monuments, to the generals of the civil war, have been removed. including, the first, and largest, that, to robert e. lee. that since the murder of george floyd, has become a site of protest, and the rewriting of public memory, and that city. the second project, focused on the university of virginia. i was on the faculty at uva, and taught courses on history of american studies, and in time, my scholarship, and teaching, had emerged. as i focus my work on the history of the university itself. i had attended uva, as an undergraduate, and when i was a student in the 1980s, i was completely on aware of the institutions history of slavery. it was, simplynot discussed. not mentioned, not memorialized, not to be seen.
1:18 pm
it was followed by many more years of segregation. they stayed at this, matter-of-factly. the histories website would have declared, uva integrated in 1968, adding, parenthetical, you that this public university, only began admitting in 1970. i had learned, for my african american students how, acutely, they had felt the weight of that history. how they had found the references to jefferson oppressive. how they did not feel welcome in the university's historic spaces. spaces that had been getting built, and maintained, by slave labor. later, segregated for additional hundred years. they are all the schools weight
1:19 pm
students. it is clear to me, and it is never mentioned slavery. even though there was not a single public acknowledgment on the universities landscape, and casting a long shadow. it is over the president's state of modern life. working with two faculty members, one with history, the other from computer science, we set out to lead a change in the institution's public memory. by working to uncover, and revealed the institutions that are with it. it is those that still cast on the university land slip. it is with temporary conversations about race relations at uva. first, a
1:20 pm
backward about the university of virginia. founded by thomas jefferson, he referred to it as the hobby of his old age. he selected the first faculty, decided which books were needed in the library, designated the liberal arts curriculum, and designed all of the buildings. importantly, he did not construct the university, as it is often said. in fact, dozens of enslaved laborers were key to all of the work that was done, from terassing the land, to digging the clay for bricks, from laying the bricks, to plastering, and painting, the walls. we saw this as a project that would involve students, and on the screen, you will see some of the names of the student who were part of this journey. and then, with involving students, and is involved in the history. we've
1:21 pm
begun to change the collective memory to the institution, and in powerful ways. with the universities archives, and learning, first, to learn to read cursive. they learned how to transcribe documents, and tank them with very sophisticated xml tags, so we could do the kinds of complex searching, allowing us to tie threats together. they asked questions. they made connections. they shaped the scholarship. they wrote an that expanded our understanding. all of this work, weaving into a larger story, which is now ongoing, for a decade. that has enabled me, and some of my colleagues, to, also, published a book on the history of enslavement, and uva, coming out in 2019. not long after, we had begun our work in 2012, a
1:22 pm
year later. the president of the university to raise a sullivan, and they are in slavery at the university. it is 64 grave shafts, and who are now understood to be part of the burial location, and to enslaved people in the early decades. working closely with the local african american community, the university restored this cemetery, and the site of reflection, and remembrance. they are both designed for the university, and have long been seen as a model for campuses, throughout america. and open quad, which is surrounded by teaching space, and at the university, also for the living faculty. it had
1:23 pm
included the round building at the top, which is the rotunda, library, and health classrooms. the larger buildings, and running the inside parallel rows there are called pavilions, and those classrooms, and residents, for faculty. the large two story buildings, on the outer's, were called hotels, and they were the dining halls where students would eat. in between the larger structures are student rooms, where the students resided. kitchens were buried in the basements, although that was rare in the 19th century american south, and the area bound in orange, where the work yards. the areas, today, that regard those behind high walls, would be the area where animals were kept, and later, butchered. food was prepared, clothes were washed,
1:24 pm
over large that's of boiling water, and the list goes on, and on. these work yards where the plantations for enslaved residents. here, almost in an urban setting, densely packed. in the universities first decades, eventually, these are the people who lived it uva. faculty, hotel keepers, both whom have kept people they owned, kept enslaved people, and the students. and, of course, the enslaved. the early rules for the university, written by thomas jefferson, all 95 pages of them, included the following line. no student shall keep a servant. and, for decades, the enactments were
1:25 pm
used by the university as a way to say, there was not enslaved people uva. it became an easy cover for their denial. but, if you keep breeding, in the rules, and the university archives, you learn that the university required the hotel keepers, and to keep at least one enslaved person, for every 20 students, that they served. the faculty, themselves, also own people, because that is who provided the food, and the domestic service, to those households. many volumes had been written about jefferson, and slavery. but, in short, is worth keeping in mind the following, that jefferson himself wrote, in notes on the state of virginia. in which he spoke about the
1:26 pm
corrupting influence of slavery. there must, doubtless, be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people, produced by the existence of slavery among us. the whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions. the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submission on the other. the man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals, and deprived by such circumstances. jefferson had written that in 1785. he knew, well, the cost of slavery. he knew, well, the rocketing influence of slavery. yet, he
1:27 pm
never worked to end it. here, at the end of his life, in the 18 twenties, he knew that it was, absolutely, central to the success of his institution. in fact, it was part of his reason for founding the university of virginia. it is, then, and its founding of the university, and was hoping to create a university in the south, to be protected from those who are, quote, to have those in principle, and quote. that is, from the very beginning the, university of virginia, which is a pro slavery institution. instead of students bringing their own enslaved people, then that the hotel keepers keep enslaved people. jefferson was aware of the complex power structures that would exist at a university. so, by not letting students bring their own enslaved people, by making all of the enslaved people at uva subject to the authority of the university, it meant that the university might be better
1:28 pm
able to control it. the end result was, instead, that students behaved about all of the enslaved, from all of the personal property, and violence was a constant threat for those enslaved at uva. jefferson had worked to hide slavery and his designs for the university pushing the work into basement kitchens, that were ill suited to the task, hidden behind high walls, that masked their labor. with time, the faculty, and hotel keepers, added additional buildings. they built kitchens in the work yards. they added buildings for dairies, and chicken coops. and for woodshed's and places where the enslaved could live. and any one time, there was 100, to 200
1:29 pm
enslaved people, residing at the university. some, in purpose built buildings. there are very few surviving, and this is one of them, greatly altered when, and if, constructed. most have been removed. today, history has been erased. what used to be the work yards of virginia, are now beautiful garden spaces. they are the spaces that students love to go to, for garden parties, weddings, studying, and contemplation. but these were work yards. they were spaces of hard, messy labor. the sites of work. where things, such as butchering hogs for smoking, for preparing food, washing linens, chopping wood, what was necessary for the
1:30 pm
several hundred factory, and students, who lived there, to be able to live there. the faculty were very involved in the daily life of students. on the screen, you can see from the faculty minutes, the bill affair that the faculty said that hotel keepers must provide, at a minimum. and, everything you are reading there, that was expected to be served to students, had to be raised, prepared, and butchered, on the grounds, because uva, at this time, is in the middle of nowhere. it is, essentially, surrounded by a plantation landscape. so, while this history is, largely,
1:31 pm
obliterated, by turning the gardens into spaces of leisure, and the removal of most of the buildings, there is, actually, so much evidence that survives. casting a shadow over the landscape, even though, for decades, we walked right by it without asking questions. so, here is the basement of one of those hotels. hotel a, where enslaved people would have lived, where meals would have been prepared, and, of course, in the basement, there are large cook kitchens, surviving, not only in the hotels, but in the pavilions, and in all of the early buildings. the faculty, were also, deeply involved in designating the duty of the enslaved. regularly specifying what they expected to be accomplished for the students. and, as i said, the faculty themselves and people who are expected to provide for their individual households. as i had learned, and my work in richmond, it was a really important to try to help modern audiences, to imagine the landscape of the crash. because the current gardens are really powerful images. because we
1:32 pm
have worked to create this landscape, building, by building. this work involves extensive research, photography, archaeology, comparison with similar buildings, in order to allow for reconstructions, such as these. the goal, a building by building, is to reconstruct the entire academic village, as jefferson called it, and maybe, one day, we can even repopulate the gardens with the cows, picks, and chickens, that wandered among them. we have learned that they can use the power of technology, to help connect people with the landscapes of the past, by connecting them with the landscape of the president, that they know so well. all of
1:33 pm
this work has allowed us to fully understand the universities passed. to recover a history that, for so long, has been deliberately suppressed. this has been with dozens of students, over many years, and has clearly had a huge impact. because, at the uva, the public has changed. now, instead of just shadows, this history is broadly known. all students, now, know this was the landscape of slavery. there are multiple markers, recognizing this. there are now several buildings named, after people who had been enslaved there. including, a new dormitory named after william, and isabella, givens. when dedicated, many of their descendants were able to return. the university has begun to build relationships that, it is working to repair, with the local african american community in charlottesville,
1:34 pm
many of whom, likely, descended from people who were enslaved at the university. our work has been able to restore the names of hundreds of people who were enslaved there. you can see some of their names on the screen, here. that has been able to be a very important part of the transformation of uva's landscape, and that is the addition of the memorial to enslaved laborers, where their names are at shift into a monumental stonewall. here, you can see it after a rain, where the water picks out the names. those blank gashes, which are names for those that we may not get, and may never know. this is such a significant
1:35 pm
transformation to the universities landscape. in part, because, of it's a very important placement. this massive circle, the same circumference as jefferson's rotunda. placed, very near, jefferson's rotunda. you can see here, an aerial shot, where you can see the lit up memorial at the bottom, in jefferson's rotunda above it. and this, major walkway, for anybody visiting the university. so, in close proximity to jefferson's academical village, here, in this moment, in our presence -- in our president, the scholarship of a large team of students, working, for years, has been able to make visible what was, deliberately, suppressed for more than a
1:36 pm
century. it it has helped the university's president acknowledge, and memorialize, it's passed, as an important step in that university, being able to have conversations about its more inclusive future. so, thank you, and i am looking forward to your questions, and our conversation. >> who will be brave, and be the first to go? yes? >> [inaudible] >> we have a mic for you. >> do you mind coming up here, to this? come on up. yes, standard there, and it will pick you up.
1:37 pm
>> firstly, thank you for being here. i know, in the presentation, and about the impacts of george floyd's death, in virginia, and how that has changed the landscape here, i want to ask you how, in the last couple of years, we have seen pushback on any talks of diversity. we have seen any talks of those being accused, and called, critical race theory. have you seen those conversations impact or work in a negative light? >> thank you so much for that question. it's a very important one, and i do think we are at
1:38 pm
such an important moment. we are having this battle between a past, that wanted to keep these stories suppressed, and demand that we not do that. that we are honest about our past. that we tell an inclusive history, that is honest about what happened in this country, and, about as long, lingering shadows of the president. it is not at all surprising to me and it was in the work that was done in the scholarship, and i have face those panels. we are now at a new moment, and just now, i think, elevated to a new place. so, in the work that i have done, in the works that they have been very place based, and in the city of charleston, working to help them move their plantation rememberances from just talking about the white families that lived there, to everybody who lived there, and acknowledging their enslaved past. and, also, they have face that same pushback, when they did the exhibit to the library
1:39 pm
of virginia. when i started this work at the university of virginia, there is a lot of pushback, particularly, in the alumni community. why are we talking about jefferson, and slavery? that is the past, and people wanted it suppressed. so, where we are now is a place where many more of us are having these conversations, and, as painful as the pushback is, they're having the conversations. i think we just need to keep doing this work, and having these conversations, and i don't expect it will be resolved quickly. >> other questions? now i think we have a mic that can come to you.
1:40 pm
>> just raise your hand. >> i just had a question about some architecture that i saw on the images. in the gardens who were talking about, there was curvatures in the walls. is that just architectural detailing that was added to be interesting, or was it part of the slave work that we talked about? >> so, the enslaved people, one of the first things about the construction about the university of virginia, here it is, in the middle of nowhere. charlottesville, a tiny town, more than a while away from where the university was located. all of the bricks on the site are made by enslaved people. so, the good thing for the construction is that charlottesville is in a place with a perfect red clay. enslaved people had to dig the clay, put it in brick molds, fire it, dry it, and haul it to
1:41 pm
the site. so, the question to the curved walls, which are often called serpentine walls, is that those who would have been entirely made by enslaved people, and they were put around the work yards, as a way of, really, segregating the zones, between where enslaved people were, and where students, and faculty, were. so, there was enslaved zones, and free zones. the reason that they are serpentine, is jefferson would have seen those kinds of walls in his travels, particularly, in england, where they were common in gardens. i think, to jefferson, they were both ornamentally appealing, but also, had the advantage of using fewer bricks. in their curve, they were strong enough to stand up, only one brick thick. whereas, if you had a one brick wall, it needed to be very thick to stand. so, the walls, that are there today,
1:42 pm
are mostly reconstructed, and are reconstructed lower than they originally were. the original walls were about eight feet tall, and you could not see into, or out of those work yards. >> so going through your research we came across that these pavilions on the work areas that the slaves worked, and they were covered over with gardens. do you know when that happened and then did that coincide with any historical event in the south,, possible a? >> you are so oppression. great question. so those gardens were all put
1:43 pm
in in the 1950s. as and by the person who designed many of the gardens at colonial williamsburg. in the 20th century early 20th century when americans are fascinated by their colonial past, they build many mythologies about their colonial past. many of which were kind of very connected to england, and there are imagining that their life here in america was a lot like england. so where in colonial williamsburg them up to the people had stunning elaborate gardens. and there were some in williamsburg. so they imagined the same thing for uva as well. that what would have been behind these pavilions would have been leisure gardens think of jade austin novel, but you stroll through as your afternoon leisure. and so that is when they were all put in. what is interesting about them
1:44 pm
now is that they are now historically important. because they are a really important document about colonial revival taste. and about a really important colonial revival garden designer. so there are many layers of history at uva as there would be an historic site that we've been dealing with for a long time. >> -- >> yes! >> well, firstly, thank you professor for this. because i know there is a huge conversation especially in classrooms about the contention about speaking about the past. a lot of the time people take it as, why are you blaming the students, why are you taking it as a spirit of guilt? do you believe that art was an easier segue into having that conversation. and like, using the visual aspects instead of just lecturing about it? >> great question. i myself am a visual learner.
1:45 pm
right? so when i was like you, a student in college i took with a ton of history classes and a lot of artistry. and for some reason for me, there were many things that came up in the visual that somehow wasn't covered in my history classes, and connected with me as a human being. and so for me i have always found the visual a more human way into history. and it often is more about to the lived experience. and when i was in an undergraduate most history was political history and military history. history classes did not talk about how humans lived very much. so i've always liked that. when i believe is really powerful about crows images, if you spend a lot of time looking at them is they allow you to
1:46 pm
talk about the american slave trade on a very personal human level. much of the scholarship, although it has changed in the last five years, but when i was starting this work much of the scholarship about the slave trade focused on numbers. a focused on the mechanism. it talked about the money, and the economic impact. but i was really drawn to this man. a man who is sitting there with his arms crossed, and his fists clenched. who is clearly indignant and what is happening. i was really taken by the connection of these mothers with their young children. and i think -- and the moment he chose for this painting. most abolitionist imagery
1:47 pm
focused on the auction itself. it's the kind of fear of that moment, you know, prices rise saying, the hammers going sold. that drama of the sale. but he represented them sitting there, thinking about the fate that was before them. and i thought that was just such a different way into thinking about the slave trade as really the story of the ripping apart of families. what we have here, the mothers have their young children. but other than that, there are no connections between these people. they have been taken away from their families and they are about to be sent on a journey.
1:48 pm
either overland -- sometimes they were marched all the way to louisiana. or on the railroads. they railroads only come in the 1850s. and they will never see their families again. and after the war, there are newspapers in the african american communities. which are advertising, help me find so and so. so you find people in virginia taking out advertisements in louisiana. cyan, my son was sold away from me in richmond, in the 1850s. does anyone know what happened to him? can anyone find him? so that is what they are did for me. that really pulled me into this history, in a different way. >> so we've been looking at how
1:49 pm
the form of artwork is also significant. we would call this a genre painting, wouldn't weigh? we would call the so genre painting. so we are also thinking of, eric crow is not even from the united states. he is creating a genre painting of this place. so we would ask ourselves who was that for? the size and everything would be significant. >> great question. this painting, eric crow creates an exhibits for the british royal academy exhibit in 1861. now, he is being very politically clever in doing that. because the war had just erupted in america. the british newspapers are talking about it constantly. because great britain makes so much money from american
1:50 pm
cotton. the uk is economically dependent on slavery in the american south. right? because all of that cotton ends up in the mills in the uk. so everybody is talking about the war. so he goes back to what were his sketches that he had made in the 1850s. some of which he had already published in the illustrated london news. which was an illustrated newspaper. and he had gotten a lot of attention for those. but he knew if he did this for the royal academy he would get attention. and in fact he was one of the most frequently commented on works. there was one other entry of american slavery in that same exhibit. it's a painting call to hunted slaves. and it shows slaves running away. but that person had never been to america, had never met and enslaved person. and it was called a bit of studio romance.
1:51 pm
and they talked about the verisimilitude of this work. they knew crowe had been there. they had read his writings, in the illustrated london news. you very interestingly can't see it but if you look at the painting very closely, he signs it by painting as if he is moved the sand on the floor with his finger to write his name. so it becomes this like physical statement i was here. in a very different way. so that was his audience. and he played a bit, because there were a number of things he did an article she wrote in the illustrated london news, as part of his activity. as a light scale abolitionist. he is not a major activist. but he did play a role in that movement. any other questions?
1:52 pm
right here. >> i'm not really too sure if this is your research. because if the 18 50s in the 18 hundreds. when you mentioned before that the -- over the gardeners was happening in the 1950s. does the legacy of the civil rights movement have anything to do with this or is that nothing in common? i'm just curious. >> it is really interesting. i mean, virginia. if you think about -- have you heard of the unite the right valley that happen in charlottesville in 2017? it is not surprising that richard spencer chose charlottesville for that. charlottesville, relatively small town. right. it is town of about 55,000 people. not a big city. it had for civil war monuments.
1:53 pm
one to robert e. lee, one to stonewall jackson, and to where they're often referred to as standing soldiers. anonymous civil war soldiers. richard spencer had a connection with you via so that was part of it. but charlottesville was a city that, in the 1950s, decided to close it city schools rather than integrate. it is a movement referred to as massive resistance. this happened -- in not throughout the state of virginia, but in multiple cities throughout virginia. so, the local residents were supposed to integration after the ruling of brown v. board of education that they closed the schools. right? it has a deeply racist history. so when the city voted to remove the statue of robert e. lee, but they did not to a quickly enough it became a site,
1:54 pm
a great sights, for them to have this protest. uva somehow or another manages not to integrate its undergraduate population until 1968. well after the civil rights movement. and it will, point out well after the university of alabama university of mississippi. you can go online with other schools that integrated's earlier. so it's connection to civil rights is in a group of very powerful white southerners, whose vision of uva in the past looks a lot like what they reconstructed with these gardens and this beautiful, a racist history of slavery. so it matched their mythology. yeah. one more question. .
1:55 pm
>> my question is a bit similar. you talked about new research about the work you have to do going through records, to uncover a lot of that lost history. huge infrastructure changes and everything. the initial question was going to be do you have any covering up of that past legacy, was a purposeful or accidental. leaning towards a lot of it was purposeful or intentional. one, i'm asking. that too, if it was purposeful would it be an easy or more difficult time with your research had it been through just a lack of care and not a conscious effort to cover this up? >> it's a great question. i would say it is a mix. right? a lot of the buildings in the gardens were ultimately taken down because they fell down. right? they were in disrepair or they did not have a use anymore. some of them were taken down as part of the garden. some of it was purposeful.
1:56 pm
some of it just happened over time. the good news is that the university had completely kept all of the records. so it was not that purposeful. and the needles were all in those haystacks to find. it has been the extraordinary work of people like you, of students, who for ten years have been reading through what are hundreds of linear feet of 19th century documents. so it's official university records, it's letters and diaries of students and a faculty, and the people who visited. and they just keep finding more and more stuff, which allows us to tell their lives and the histories of more and more people and connect more of the dots of what it was like at uva in the first 50 years. what was purposeful. was that the university never acknowledged this history.
1:57 pm
it used to be the few winning overseas history page about the institution, there was no mention of slavery. when you went into the rotunda that had a museum display talking about jefferson's designs for the university or talking about student life at the university not to mention of slavery. that has all changed. they've redesigned all those exhibits, they now freely and openly acknowledge it. they build immemorial and renamed buildings. it is an entirely different memorialized planted escape. now. then it was ten years ago. and that change has been pretty swift. they personally university did was in 2007 they boarded pass a resolution acknowledging that there was slavery. and then they put in a plaque on the ground that was maybe 18 inches or two feet high. and it said, i may not get this
1:58 pm
exactly right, i used to no word for word. but it was like, to the free and enslaved laborers who helped realize thomas jefferson's vision for the university of virginia. that, in 2007, was what they thought was an acknowledgment of slavery. they have obviously come a long way since then. all, right well, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to speak with you. really great to meet you, all and i really appreciate your very thoughtful questions. >>
1:59 pm
remarkably exploration of the issues in the problems. kennedy, i mean you can describe this time in chicago and he said it was the first time that he had experienced the grinding poverty, exploitation, and despair that prevailed in urban neighborhoods. king in his family moved into the west side of chicago and lived like members of the community. and they really felt there was an uprising that summer while they were there. so he really felt it in a way that accelerated his efforts.
2:00 pm
he observed. and king, on vietnam, he had spoken out. but he's careful but in this hearing he observed that the johnson administration spent liberally on a war in vietnam where americans equality was not picked steak and he questioned the wisdom of a conflict justified by vague commitments to a reactionary regime. and this is a famous quote from king. the bombs a vietnam exploded home to securing the hopes and possibilities of americans. meanwhile, he said, the war on poverty was scarcely a scourged. at no time has a total coordinated and fully adequate program to concede. kennedy asking, and it wasn't
2:01 pm
addressing back and work between the two of them. but he asking what he thought, the extent of poverty and alienation was outside of ghetto areas. not at all said kennedy. the problem, as you know, he told kennedy. is that ghetto dwellers are often invisible. that's unknown, words unheard, feelings and felt. kennedy conceded that lack of understanding of the bitter conditions that existed in these urban communities was deeply troubling, and expressed deep concern to wear this combination of factors would leave the united states. riots, king famously warned, in the final analysis, turn out to be the language of the unheard. >> watch the full program, all, anytime at c-span dot org slash history.
2:02 pm
and after the main event. we are so thrilled to have derek backs are here with us today. he is the author of a pursuit of jefferson, traveling through europe with the most perplexing founding father. joining us today from fairfax virginia where he lives with his wife and children. and in his words, they live quite a peaceful


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on