"Some have been afraid to engage in the type of conversation we are about to have today because the many issues surrounding it are difficult, and because some constituents might be offended. But the past never cooperates by staying in the past. Eventually it always reaches out to us and asks, 'What have you learned?' "
I spoke these words on March 25, 2017 at a community gathering, and I use the word "community" here in its broadest sense. Present were Athens area residents, students, faculty, and administrators of the University of Georgia. We were there to consider the presence of enslaved persons at UGA, their role in the university's function and growth, as well as the legacies slavery left--segregation, discrimination, racial animus. We were there to reflect upon the University’s relationship to African Americans before and since emancipation, to appreciate the contributions of formerly unacknowledged peoples to the growth of the UGA and, by extension, to the United States. As the state’s flagship institution, as the nation’s first state-chartered public university, Georgia has a responsibility to exemplify how thoughtful dialogue about complicated legacies of slavery and race can be used to positively inform current conceptions of access and citizenship. This conversation was a critical first-step to greater knowledge.
Below are just a sample of articles considering the history of and the many significances of the discoveries at the Baldwin Burial site.
"Buried History How far should a university go to face its slave past?" The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Question for UGA administration after slavery conversation: What next?"
"Sting of death: UGA’s handling of Baldwin Hall remains faces criticism"
"History of the Cemetery"
Willson Center Digilab