Monticello plans Juneteenth events to honor enslaved people and their descendants
On Saturday, June 18, 2022, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello will host Ascendant: The Power of Descendant Communities to Shape Our Stories, Places, and Future. This is a public program in recognition of Juneteenth that specifically aims to uplift descendant voices that have often been marginalized, or left out completely. The event will be a thoughtful space for descendants of Monticello’s enslaved families, thought leaders, writers, artists, and historians to discuss the importance of descendant voices in the telling of American history.
Ascendant will honor and host Monticello’s Getting Word community for the private rededication of the Burial Ground for Enslaved People. The Getting Word African American Oral History Project, begun in 1993, has sought out descendants of the enslaved community at Monticello. More than 400 members of descendant families will be in attendance, making it the largest reunion of descendants of the enslaved in Monticello’s history. Artworks by groundbreaking painter Titus Kaphar, and Getting Word descendant Jabari Jefferson will be on exhibit through July 10, some of them specially created for the occasion.
With 1,000 anticipated attendees, Ascendant will be hosted on Monticello’s West Lawn and will consist of musical performances, poetry, and panel discussions, featuring filmmaker Ava DuVernay, The Atlantic writer Clint Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed, musician Wynton Marsalis, and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, to name a few, all in conversation with Getting Word descendants.
For nearly thirty years, the Getting Word African American Oral History Project has transformed the history shared at Monticello as descendants have shared their family stories. Getting Word has also connected descendants with shared family histories and empowers them to use their voices to shape recollections of American history.
This event is free and open to the public, as well as available to view virtually but registration is required. To register and view the event schedule, please visit the Monticello website. To Learn more about the Getting Word African American Oral Project at monticello.org/gettingword.
Mr. Marsalis’s Saturday panel is scheduled to start at 11:40 a.m. ET.