The University of Georgia has unveiled the design of a memorial for slaves and former slaves buried at the site of a campus building.
Beginning in late 2015, workers discovered more than 100 unmarked graves _ likely those of slaves and former slaves, The Athens Banner-Herald reported . The discoveries were made during a construction and expansion project at the 1930s-era Baldwin Hall.
Baldwin Hall is in the area of what was once Athens’ main cemetery before the Civil War.
Construction of the memorial is expected to begin soon, and a dedication ceremony will be scheduled this fall, school officials said.
Conceptual drawings show that it will feature an ascending, circular series of vertical members, an inscribed granite marker, a fountain and two benches.
Much of the granite for the memorial, about 35,000 pounds, will be donated by an Oglethorpe County quarry owned by the African American family of a UGA administrator, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Strategic University Initiatives Michelle Cook.
Cook hopes the memorial will “provide a tranquil, reflective place for our entire community,” the university said in a statement.
One critic of university administrators’ conduct after the graves were discovered said he was encouraged by the announcement, but wondered about the wording planned for the memorial.
“This is a significant step forward. It’s important to have the site immortalized,” said Fred Smith, co-chairman of the Athens Black History Bowl, said in an email. “Admittedly, I’m curious about what wording will be etched into the stone. The historical language is almost just as important as the monument.”