Cornerstone Summer Institute (CSI) Starts Tomorrow!

The President’s Commission on Slavery and the University at the University of Virginia is very excited to welcome twenty-one high school students to Grounds starting tomorrow for our first week-long camp on slavery and its legacies. We have students from all across Virginia as well as California, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts attending. We have a full slate of activities for them during the week as they explore UVA archival holdings related to Thomas Jefferson and to slavery at UVA and also in Virginia; learn about slavery and the life experiences of the enslaved at the University; explore the Academical Village; visit Montpelier and learn how to do an archaeological dig (we will get dirty! This is hands-on learning); visit Monticello and do the intensive slavery and Hemings family program there; visit the Jefferson School; meet with community members and the Piedmont Housing Alliance; and visit the Daughters of Zion Cemetery.

This new program was born in conversations with the community–many of whom indicated that it would be great if UVA could work with young people of all backgrounds, encouraging them to consider college and helping them to understand the complicated history of slavery.

The program, however, did not become fully realized until a student, Alison Jawetz (now a graduate student here in the Batten School), took the Race and Repair seminar offered by UVA professors Phyllis Leffler and Frank Dukes along with community member Charlene Green (a class originally created with community member and PCSU Local Advisory Board member Karen Waters-Wicks). She interviewed PCSU Co-Chair Kirt von Daacke, who shared the camp idea with her. Ms. Jawetz decided to make the camp her course capstone project. She returned to professor von Daacke last fall and said: “let’s make this camp a reality!”

Ten months later, thanks to the hard work of Alison Jawetz, professor Kirt von Daacke, and a huge team of contributors (Phyllis Leffler, Frank Dukes, Leontyne Price, Karen Waters-Wicks, Matt Reeves at Montpelier, Charlene Green, Joanna Williams, Brandon Dillard, Meghan Faulkner, Debra White, Dr. Marcus Martin, Patrice Grimes, Leontyne Peck, Khalifa Lee, Barbara Brown Wilson, Patrick Tolan, Nancy Deutsch, Melissa Levy, Winx Lawrence, Andrea Douglas, Liz Varon, Michael Palmer, Bill Ferster, and several others! Apologies if we have missed anyone who made signal contributions to designing the institute), the camp has arrived.

Counselors and staff for this year’s camp include: Millicent Usoro, Emily Uosseph, Kaitlin LaGrasta, Kat Richardson, Lanie Cohen, Catherine Toro, and Wendy Wright. All counselors did an intensive three-day seminar with Co-Chair Kirt von Daacke, Dean Beverly Adams, professor Joanna Williams, and historian Coy Barefoot.

We are now busy with final preparations for the camp–printing out all classroom materials, collating folders and notebooks, collecting all the UVA SWAG campers will get, and purchasing enough food to keep twenty-one high schoolers full, healthy, and happy for the week.

On Friday, from 11:00am to 2:30pm, the Cornerstone Summer Institute will have a public event in Minor 125, starting with a community panel at 11:00am, followed by lunch for campers, families, and guests at noon, and then CSI camper final presentations. Hope to see you there!

Please “Like” us on Facebook at “President’s Commission on Slavery and the University.” We will also be tweeting out pictures and updates on the camp this week–please follow us on twitter “PCSU UVA,” @SlaveryUVA.