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William & Mary’s Lemon Project selects concept for memorial to former slaves

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — View the interview here

Last summer, 10 On Your Side told you about William & Mary’s competition to find a concept for the memorial of former slaves at the university. 

Jody Allen, who is the director of the Lemon Project, told us that the project was established back in 2009.

“The Lemon Project is William & Mary’s response to a call to study its history where it involves slavery, make that history public, and establish a memorial to that history,” she said.

Allen, who is also an assistant professor of history at the school says the project is named after Lemon, a slave that was owned by William & Mary.

“Lemon was not the only slave. Before the American Revolution, there was quite a few slaves. We don’t know the exact number,” she said last summer.

Now, Allen expects to have at least 60 names of those enslaved by the school on the memorial. She says having those listed was one of the requirements of the designs.

The school selected a concept based on a hearth designed by 2011 graduate William Sendor.

Allen believes its unique and will stand out from other memorials.

“The enslaved worked a lot around the fire. They made sure firewood was kept in student rooms and in offices. They were in charge of cooking in the kitchen. They were places of congregation. It looks at both sides of their lives,” she said about the symbolic use of a hearth.

Allen hopes that when the project is complete, students and others from the community can also gather at the memorial to reflect.

She believes that by including the names of those already uncovered, it will help people connect to them.

“Knowing the names when they see Charlotte, and Effie, and Lemon, and Winkfield, it humanizes these individuals who were here who were so long forgotten.”  Allen said.

The school will soon be in the process of finding an architect to finalize the designs and build the memorial. She would like to see it completed within two and a half years.

Allen says the memorial will go either on the historic campus or close to it and the school has already started fundraising for the memorial.