Hollins University Working Group on Slavery and its Contemporary Legacies

The Front Quad at Hollins Institute, 1861-1863. Courtesy of the Hollins Archives.

The Front Quad at Hollins Institute, 1861-1863. Courtesy of the Hollins Archives.

Presentation for Leading Equity, Diversity and Justice Day

The Working Group presented “The Legacy of Slavery at Hollins” on Friday October 23, 2020. On our History page you can see video and other materials from this program.

Mission of the Working Group

The working group is charged by the university’s President with continuing to research and educate the public about Hollins University’s historical connections to enslavement and the contemporary legacies of slavery on campus, within the neighboring historic Hollins community, and throughout the Greater Roanoke Valley. The group’s membership is comprised of interested faculty, alumnae, staff, students, and citizens from the historic Hollins community. The working group is an integral part of the university’s commitment to an open and honest dialogue about race and diversity on our campus and in our region of Southwest Virginia. It represents an honest and transparent examination of who we are as institution and what we hope to represent going forward. The group’s research highlights and memorializes the many contributions made by people of color both before and after emancipation in building a sustainable and thriving university community. As part of this continuing project, the mission of the working group is as follows:

  • To engage in archival research and archaeological studies focused on histories and legacies of enslavement on campus and to uncover documents, specific names, and oral histories related to African-American history and memory at Hollins University.
  • To publish and archive documents related to enslavement and Jim Crow era history on campus online in an easily accessible public format.
  • To recommend the creation of a physical memorial that commemorates the history on our campus in ways that are visible, tangible, and permanent.
  • To encourage educational projects for students focused on enslavement and its legacies at Hollins University and within communities of the Greater Roanoke Valley.
  • To develop and promote strong community relations with the historic Hollins community and with the African American community in the Greater Roanoke Valley, and to involve them as active long term partners and participants in our work.
  • To remain active members and leaders within the Universities Studying Slavery consortium and to serve as a resource for other small colleges and universities beginning similar projects focused on histories of enslavement.

The working group is committed to an open and public dialogue with all members of the Hollins community. We will be joined in our efforts by alumnae and residents of the Greater Roanoke Valley with particular knowledge of local history and issues of race and diversity.

Hollins University is a member of Universities Studying Slavery (USS), a consortium dedicated to collaborative research and mutual support as participating colleges and universities seek to address their institutions’ histories of slavery, racism, and inequality. In April 2018, Hollins hosted the USS Spring meeting.

June 22, 2020

We, the members of the Hollins Working Group on Slavery and Its Contemporary Legacies, want to voice our grief over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Kionte Spencer, and the countless other African American people killed due to racism. We assert that Black Lives Matter, and that addressing the history and legacy of slavery and racial discrimination is an essential step in addressing racial inequity, on campus and off, in the present. We applaud the administration’s statements of May 30, June 15, and June 19, and look forward to working in partnership with President Hinton.

Our work involves research into the history and lasting effects of enslavement on our campus, facilitating an honest and transparent examination of who we are as an institution and what we hope to represent going forward, and recognizing and transforming our historical relationship with descendants in the Hollins Community into one of support and collaboration. We offer our support to those doing anti-racist work in our community, and are here to partner with student, alumni, faculty, staff, and others’ efforts to do anti-racist work on campus, including efforts to rename on-campus buildings. During this crucial moment, we look forward to the programming which will be led by President Hinton this summer.

In addition, we recommend the list of resources compiled by the Wyndham Robertson Library, including the Antiracist Bookshelf, and we invite everyone who is interested to get involved with projects sponsored by the Working Group in the coming year. To join us or get on our mailing list, please email hhc@hollins.edu. To learn more about recent activities of the Working Group, read our May 2020 newsletter.

Join the working group

We welcome students, staff and faculty with an interest in furthering the mission and activities of the group. Email hhc@hollins.edu: we look forward to hearing from you!

Contact the working group

We welcome your comments, concerns, and suggestions. Email the group at hhc@hollins.edu, or use our contact form:

Page last updated: November 6, 2020.