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Anti-Racism, #BlackLivesMatter, and Civic Action

Readings and resources on topics of anti-racism, white supremacy, abolition and prisons, policing, protest, and civic activism.

Center for Mason Legacies

The Center for Mason Legacies (CML) is an interdisciplinary and collaborative research center established by the University Libraries and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The center seeks to preserve and examine the legacy of George Mason IV (1725-1792), his ancestors and heirs, and the people he enslaved. The team engages with student researchers in studying the past and present influences of our university's namesake though a combination of scholarly research, public history, teaching innovation, and community outreach. Some significant projects we are working on include:

  • The Enslaved Children of George Mason: The initial part of this project was completed by five undergraduate students who performed intensive research that focused on reconstructing the 18th-century experiences of enslaved children and adults on the Gunston Hall Plantation in order to raise awareness about the namesake of George Mason University, the benefits he derived from the institution of slavery, and his belief that the people he owned were property without free will or basic rights. The project's research results are showcased in an online exhibit created on the Omeka platform, and the project's broader goals have been realized: initializing discussions about the impact of slavery on higher education institutions, seeing the work of the project expand, and recognizing the enslaved individuals of Gunston Hall with a campus memorial. The CML team intends to add on to this initial research by incorporating new findings in a revised platform which will serve as part of project's archival initiatives.
  • The Memorial to the Enslaved People of George Mason: Our work on this memorial has taken a different approach from many other projects who are dealing with their own legacies connected to slavery.  Across the country, universities founded in the 17th and 18th centuries are struggling with how to acknowledge the legacy of slavery that helped build the wealth of their institutions. As a place noted for its diversity and for providing access to opportunity for all, George Mason University’s 20th-century origin allows a different path.

    The project team has conceived the idea of a physical memorial at the heart of Mason’s campus as a way to ensure that the lives of enslaved people are remembered and honored. Through the memorial and its interpretive material, new generations of students and visitors will be encouraged to figuratively stand in their footsteps while considering the relevance of George Mason, his life, and his ideas to our nation today. This project presents an opportunity to nurture remembrance through scholarship—to foster a richer dialogue about our institutional namesake and the legacies of slavery in Virginia and beyond. Through history, outreach, and education, the project seeks to broaden the narrative of our university, and encourage discussion about American ideals of equality and freedom.

  • Mason's Legacies
  • Mason Family Papers
  • Racial Reckoning