The March 1865 arrival of Union troops to UVA and Charlottesville, the liberation of the area’s enslaved community, and the lives of local Black men who served as Union soldiers and sailors are at the center of this panel conversation commemorating Liberation and Freedom Day. Jalane Schmidt, director of the Memory Project, will introduce the expert panel moderated by Caroline E. Janney, history professor and director of UVA’s Nau Center for Civil War History. Ervin L. Jordan, Jr., associate professor and research archivist at UVA’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, will highlight items from the Library related to emancipation and citizenship initiatives among local African Americans. William B. Kurtz, managing director and digital historian at the Nau Center, will discuss the Civil War service and lives of the 255 Black Union soldiers and sailors from Albemarle County, Virginia.
Director of the UVA Democracy Initiative’s Memory Project and Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Jalane Schmidt is director of the UVA Democracy Initiative’s Memory Project and associate professor of Religious Studies. She teaches courses on race, religion, and social change movements. She is the author of Cachita’s Streets: The Virgin of Charity, Race & Revolution in Cuba, a study of Cuban national identity, religion, and public events. A scholar-activist in Charlottesville, Virginia, Schmidt plans and leads public history events focused upon Civil War memory, Jim Crow, and local African American history. She co-founded the 2019-2020 Monumental Justice Virginia campaign, which successfully lobbied the Virginia General Assembly to overturn a century-old state law that had prohibited localities from removing Confederate statues.
Caroline E. Janney (moderator)
John L. Nau, III Professor, History of the American Civil War; Director, UVA Nau Center for Civil War History
Caroline E. Janney is the John L. Nau, III Professor in the History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia, and director of the UVA Nau Center for Civil War History. She is author of several books, including Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation.
Ervin L. Jordan, Jr.
Associate Professor and Research Archivist, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
Ervin L. Jordan, Jr. is an associate professor and research archivist at the University of Virginia’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. He specializes in Civil War and African American history and is affiliated faculty at UVA’s John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History. He is the author of three books including Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia, and was a historical advisor for the 2003 motion picture Gods and Generals and a 2011 PBS documentary, The American Experience: Robert E. Lee.
William B. Kurtz
Managing Director and Digital Historian, Nau Center for Civil War History
William B. Kurtz is the managing director and digital historian at the University of Virginia Nau Center for Civil War History. He oversees the Center’s two digital projects: Black Virginians in Blue and UVA Unionists.
Liberation and Freedom Day commemorates the March 3-6, 1865, arrival of Union troops to Charlottesville and Albemarle County and celebrates the beginning of emancipation of local enslaved persons, who were then the majority population of area residents. Upon the recommendation of the 2016 final report of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces, the city of Charlottesville officially declared March 3 to be “Liberation and Freedom Day.” For the past several years, the city of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the University of Virginia have officially recognized Liberation and Freedom Day, and area stakeholders—including the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, Virginia Humanities, Monticello, city and county public schools, and area churches—have sponsored and participated in programming. (See https://slavery.virginia.edu/inaugural-liberation-and-freedom-day/ )
As part of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University’s continuing efforts, informed by restorative justice models, to connect with the broader community and create new shared rituals of atonement and remembrance, we were thrilled to participate in the creation of a new tradition—Liberation and Freedom Day. https://slavery.virginia.edu
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