William & Mary to build memorial to honor slaves who built it
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The country’s second oldest university, The College of William & Mary, is turning to the public for ideas for a memorial to honor the slaves who built it.

The public college in Williamsburg, Va., announced an open competition earlier this week in search of a design that will create a “noble and lasting tribute to the memory of the people who built and served the university.”

“This memorial is such an important project for our community,” college president Katherine A. Rowe said in a statement obtained by The Washington Post. “African-Americans have been vital to William & Mary since its earliest days. Even as they suffered under slavery, African-Americans helped establish the university and subsequently maintained it.”

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Jody L. Allen, an assistant professor of history at the college, told The Post that the move follows work that began in 2007 students called on the school to research its history of slavery and release the information to the public. 

The memorial project is important because that legacy needs to be addressed, said Allen, who is also the director of the Lemon Project, which explores the school’s role as a slaveholder and later a supporter of Jim Crow laws. 

“If you have an infection and stop taking antibiotics, the infection is always going to come back,” Allen said. “These issues haven’t gone away because we haven’t talked about them.” 

According to research carried out by William & Mary, which was founded in 1693, there were once enough slaves at the school that they were able to provide all of the manual labor on the campus throughout the 18th century, The Post reported.

The search for a design concept is open to “designers, artists, architects, engineers, landscape architects, as well as people from outside the design field: anyone who is inspired to respond to this call.” 

According to the competition’s website, there will be a first-place prize of $1,000, a second place prize of $750, and a third place prize of $500. The website also states that all submissions must be received by the official October 12 deadline by 5:00 p.m.