Commission on History, Race, and A Way Forward (March 27, 2023)
Commission Members: Co-Chair Patricia Parker, Co-Chair Jim Leloudis, Nicholas Graham, Danita Mason-Hogans, Simona Goldin, Danielle Hiraldo, Josmell Perez, Delores Bailey
YouTube Link for Meeting: https://youtube.com/live/EqPArQ21NIo
I. Welcome and Introduction
Co-Chair Leloudis welcomed everyone to the March Meeting of the University Commission on History, Race, and A Way Forward and performed the roll call.
Co-Chair Leloudis entertained a motion to approve the minutes from the January 2023 meeting.
The minutes were approved unanimously.
II. Universities Studying Slavery
Co-Chair Parker welcomed everyone and reminded everyone this was our first meeting since a very successful Universities Studying Slavery Conference held March 15-18.
Co-Chair Parker discussed the theme and demographic breakdown of the conference, which included 366 participants from 4 countries, 16 states, and 51 institutions. The conference’s goal was to be as diverse and inclusive as possible and intentional about centering voices of the descendant community. Co-Chair Parker highlighted the local descendants who launched the opening of the conference, as well as the Descendants of Enslaved Communities at the University of Virginia and the Descendants of the St. Louis University Enslaved.
Co-Chair Leloudis emphasized that it was a gratifying experience to go from session to session and see the centering of descendant communities.
Commission Member Simona Goldin reiterated the comments of the co chairs. She told the Commission that she was blown away by the wisdom and vulnerability of everyone who attended. She emphasized the enriching experience of the conference and the importance of the collaborative work that happened.
Commission Member Danita Mason-Hogans shared the importance of centering descendant voices moving forward, and told the commission how meaningful it was for that to be a key part of the Universities Studying Slavery conference. – from the descendant voices and such she heard that centering descendant voices was meaningful.
Co Chair Leloudis told the Commission that he hopes people will remember this conference as one that was different from previous gatherings.
Commission Member Delores Bailey shared the pride she feels about being a part of the planning committee, and is encouraged by all of the positive comments she heard.
Co-Chairs Parker and Leloudis thanked the planning committee for their work, and announced that next fall’s conference will be held at Kings College Nova Scotia. They shared a video from the conference team at Kings College.
Co-Chair Parker updated the commission on the Unsung Founders and Barbee Cemetery Projects.
Since January, the Co-Chairs have continued to have a series of conversations with the Barbee Family. In February, two community conversations were held and though those conversations, the work of centering descendants voices has continued. Co-Chair Parker emphasized that the work should move at the pace of the community. These conversations brought forward the importance of working with experts as it relates to the cemetery, and conversations have been held with BlackSpace Urbanist Collective, Angela Thorpe, Director of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, and our University Architect Evan Yassky and his team.
Co-Chair Leloudis told the commission that, Evan Yassky will move forward talking to a set of landscape architecture firms, and the process will then involve the commission and community stakeholders.
Commissioner Danita Mason-Hogans asked for clarification on the process, which Co-Chair Parker elaborated on, explaining the importance of moving the process forward and involving community voices.
Commissioners Danita Mason-Hogans and Simona Goldin updated the commission on the Community Book Club, From Here to Equality: Community Read and Conversations. The second meeting will be held Thursday, March 30. Danita thanked the commission and Chancellor Guskiewicz for their funding of the book club. This session will discuss the importance of reparative work in Chapel Hill. Commission Member Simona Goldin emphasized that the book club has fought to feature voices in ways that attend to histories of erasure, and for this week, this means a number of Black generational Chapel Hill residents will be featured. She expressed her gratitude to these elders, and expressed hope that members of the University community will join and hold conversation. Further information is available on the commission’s website.
Co-Chair Parker took questions and comments from Commission members and thanked everyone for their attendance.
The meeting adjourned at 4:14pm.