Slave Auction Block Vigil will honor enslaved ancestors


Photo Credit: fotosipsak/iStock Photo

Beloved Community Cville is hosting a Slave Auction Block Vigil on Sunday, March 1, at 5:30 p.m., on Court Square in Downtown Charlottesville.

Participants will begin by gathering in Court Square on the sidewalk at the Number Nothing building, the former location of the Slave Auction Block Marker. The commemoration will then move to three other locations within Court Square where Black people, including those enslaved by Thomas Jefferson, were sold off by auctioneers in the 1800s: the former sites of Swan Tavern and Eagle Tavern, and the steps of the Albemarle County courthouse.

At each of these four locations descendants of enslaved people, clergy, and educators will guide the vigil. Contributors will include: Prof. Jalane Schmidt, Rev. Xavier Jackson, Deacon Don Gathers, Apostle Sarah Kelley, Rev. Brenda Brown-Grooms, and Cauline Yates.

Through the words of enslaved persons, song, prayer, story-telling, reading of names, and ritual, participants are invited to reckon with our collective history, and how it continues to inform and impact  our lives – a realization which was heightened after the recent theft of the slave auction block marker.

“Facing painful truths is often necessary for growth and social transformation and it takes community effort to address inequity,” says Beloved Community Cville organizer Elizabeth Shillue. “We must embrace becoming uncomfortable,” added Don Gathers.

The vigil is hosted by Beloved Community Cville, an organization which provides resources and opportunities to people working to create social change and equity within the Charlottesville area.

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