top of page

College of William & Mary seeks memorial for enslaved black Americans

Wren Building, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia

"Part of the school's ongoing efforts to address its historical reliance on slavery"

Public and private institutions across the United States (most notably in former slave-holding states along the Atlantic seaboard, particularly in the south) have been making strides to both document and interpret the role of slavery, and the work of enslaved Africans, in the success of those institutions. This writer explores the extensive—and ironic—involvement of slave labor in some of America's most famous symbols of freedom, including the White House and US Capitol. DC's well-regarded Georgetown University in particular has been undergoing a relatively thorough search for the meaning of the university's profit off of slave labor—including the selling of slaves--in the history and success of that institute of higher learning.

The College of William and Mary in Virginia, founded in 1693, making it the second oldest college in the United States, is taking the issue a step further. The College recently announced a design competition for a new memorial to be dedicated to the enslaved Africans who built and otherwise supported the school in its early years--meaning the first century and a half of its existence! (The 2008 view above by Jrcla2 of the historic Wren Building from the Sunken Garden is in the public domain).


William and Mary calls for a memorial to the enslaved people who helped build the school

By Joe Heim

The Washington Post

August 29, 2018

Also read

‘Their pain was unparalleled’: How slaves helped build democracy’s symbols and save Georgetown University

By Michael S. Rosenwald

The Washington Post

April 19, 2017

bottom of page