Genealogy art

Roanoke College introduces the community to ongoing research from the Genealogy of Slavery Project

SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) – Since 2019, students and staff at the Center for the Study of Racial Structures (CSSR) at Roanoke College have been working on a research project to identify the history of slavery in Southwestern Virginia.

“The larger goal was to identify slaves who played a vital role in the building and expansion of Roanoke College in the 1860s,” said Jesse Bucher, professor at Roanoke College and director of CSSR.

The research included the identification of 2,500 names of slaves in the Roanoke Valley, many of whom played a role in the original construction of Roanoke College. On Thursday evening, the CSSR presented to the community its ongoing research within the framework of the “Genealogy of Slavery” project.

“We can’t run away from the past, we can’t run away from uncomfortable truths, we have to own and adapt to them. So I think knowing where our college is from, knowing where this city is from, is vital for us to keep moving forward, to keep growing and improving as we go,” said Michele Eaves, junior at Roanoke College.

The work doesn’t stop there, however; The CSSR will continue its research and present its findings on the “Genealogy of Slavery” project as the story is uncovered. The next step is to hear feedback on what the community wants to see for a public art project that will be a memorial to bonded laborers.

For more information on the CSSR, you can find its website here.