Memorial to Enslaved Laborers
From the Nominator
As the University of Virginia approached its bicentennial celebration, it brought together historians, architects, alumni, and descendants of enslaved individuals to tell a more inclusive story of its founding. Beginning with the establishment of the President's Commission on Slavery and the University in 2013, our goal was to examine and bring to light the many stories that for too long have remained hidden. With this effort came many hard truths about the university's early history, as well as our next goal: a monument to recognize and honor the 4,000 enslaved who came through Charlottesville to build and maintain UVA until 1865.
Starting with a single lead donor, fundraising for the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers quickly grew into a large-scale effort to reach a broader audience. Without a known constituency for supporting such a project, the campaign required innovation and creativity to create a pipeline of potential new donors, eventually reaching more than 26,000 constituents over the course of two and half years. Through nearly a dozen events, a 1:1 matching challenge grant, more than 200 donor visits, 3 major newspaper articles, and more than 50 construction site tours, we ended the campaign with more than 1,000 individuals making gifts totaling $3.5 million to construct the memorial, which was completed in April of 2020.
The completed memorial has served as a powerful space of healing and contemplation for the UVA and Charlottesville communities this year, and has paved the way for future fundraising priorities related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
From the Judges
We were impressed with the quality and breadth of the Platinum Finalists. We reviewed special annual appeals, refreshed giving days, tremendous innovations, and impressive campaign achievements. And while there were many worthy of top consideration, we were unanimous in our support of this winning entry. This submission was a continuation of an effort to tell a more inclusive story of the founding and early days of this institution. It connected with donors, community members, and descendants to raise $3.5 million and construct a memorial to enslaved laborers. We thank and congratulate all of the Finalists, and offer special congratulations to the Platinum winner, the University of Virginia. We are sure that this new memorial will be an important space for healing and contemplation, and will undoubtedly inspire others to follow your lead.