Beloved Community Cville is hosting a vigil at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 1, at historic Court Square in downtown Charlottesville, where enslaved people were once bought and sold.
The event marks the first night of the city’s week-long Liberation & Freedom Day observances to acknowledge the trauma which took place there and honor local enslaved ancestors, according to a news release from the organization that provides resources and opportunities in support of social change and equity within the Charlottesville area.
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 before it was stolen on February 6. 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, the release stated.
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At each of these four locations descendants of enslaved people, clergy, and educators will guide the vigil. Contributors will include: Professor Jalane Schmidt, the 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 modern-day lives.“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.