Located on the University of Richmond campus, The Burying Ground has been identified as a place of burial for enslaved people bound to the land’s owners dating to before the Civil War. In response to a 2019 report identifying as such, the University’s Burial Ground Memorialization Committee engaged Baskervill to help in the development of plans for a memorial, including public engagement and design workshops. Following instances of desecration of the burying ground by the University in the early 20th century, the goal of the memorial is to provide a permanent place of recognition, reckoning, and commemoration acknowledging those enslaved. Following a series of stakeholder engagement sessions, design concepts were explored and refined.
Intended as a place of memory, mourning, reflection, sanctuary, solace, healing, ceremony, and collective action, the final design allows visitors to reflect on the past and work through both individual and collective wounds. It is both a memorial to those enslaved and a cemetery for loved ones lost. Visitors are invited to reflect and engage beyond the descendants of the families memorialized in this space. Incorporating water, stone, and metal, the design includes a story wall, abstract art, and a new witness tree to tell an inclusive history.
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