Student Resolution of 2007
In 2007, The Student Assembly of William and Mary passed a resolution proposed by Tiseme Zegeye, class of '08, calling for action by the Board of Visitors to "establish a commission to research the full extent of the College of William and Mary’s role in slavery,” which would report its findings publicly and establish a memorial to the “contributions of slaves at the College.” (Flat Hat, 7 December 2007). Hence, in 2009, the Board of Visitors acknowledged that the College had “owned and exploited slave labor from its founding to the Civil War; and that it had failed to take a stand against segregation during the Jim Crow Era.” As a result, the Board offered its support for the establishment of The Lemon Project: A Journey of Reconciliation.
Since its formation, The Lemon Project has aimed to address the history of slavery at the college and its many effects; the current project to memorialize the enslaved is one facet of many to enrich the history of the college and ensure the inclusion of African American narratives.
Taking it to the Classroom
Due to combined student interest and the establishment of The Lemon Project, Jody Allen and Ed Pease co-taught a course addressing the memorialization of the enslaved. Undergraduates, graduate students, and community members took the course together and collaborated to determine a way this could happen at the college. With visitors such as President Reveley and Matthew Lambert from University Advancement, the students were able to interact with members of the college administration and learn about some of the nuts and bolts necessary for the creation of a memorial.
Now, The Lemon Project and its Committee on Memorialization has begun an effort to begin a national competition for the design of a memorial acknowledging both the enslaved and non-enslaved African Americans who built the College of William and Mary. There will be more details to come about the process as it comes together!