July 4, 2020
On our nation’s Independence Day, the Montpelier community wishes to reaffirm its commitment to the Descendant Community of the enslaved at Montpelier, telling the stories of Black lives at Montpelier, and to being part of the larger conversation about why those lives matter in America’s past, present, and future. Black Lives Matter. Black History Matters.
We investigate and share ways that the U.S. Constitution has perpetuated and addressed racism throughout our nation’s complicated past. We say the names and tell the stories of the hundreds of enslaved and free African Americans who lived, worked, and built communities at Montpelier. We have done this for many years through award-winning scholarship and interpretation and continue to do so through current projects such as investigating the Home Farm, completing the North Dwelling and South Kitchen, and constitutional law enforcement officers training. Recently, we have solicited research from a Harvard graduate student to develop a robust addition to the Law Enforcement Program, “Race and The Constitution." To date, we have served 60 law enforcement agencies in six states and will expand this program to include all public servants.
In partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, in February 2018, Montpelier convened the inaugural National Summit on Teaching Slavery to deliberate on the best ideas and practices for teaching slavery in a more engaging and inclusive manner that incorporates the stories and experiences of enslaved people through the voices of their descendants.
Montpelier affirms the much-needed truth-telling about slavery’s role in the shaping of the United States, the legacy it continues to have within race relations in America, and the lingering institutional disparities that prevent Americans from realizing the ideals expressed in our founding documents. Failing to tell the truth about race and slavery results in widely-held fear of engaging with people who look, speak, act, or think differently than ourselves and it creates anger and despair in those feeling marginalized, erased, and invisible due to demographics or identity. It is experienced in the harmful effects of racism on the public’s physical, mental, and spiritual health. It is experienced tragically, violently, and fatally in Ferguson, Charlottesville, Charleston, Minneapolis, Louisville, and places in between.
Online, however, we have not effectively communicated these same stories to the public. Through our social media platforms and website, Montpelier is committed to creating new interpretive content that will amplify the stories of Black lives at Montpelier in support of Black Lives Matter. We will share the places Black Americans lived, worked, and built communities and reveal how every object at Montpelier is central to understanding and telling their stories. We will provide content that will examine the legacies of slavery and encourage you to participate in that study. Finally, we will share how Montpelier will continue to work towards a more inclusive approach to telling whole truth history. We welcome you on this journey.