Acting upon the recommendation of a campus and community task force, the University of Georgia has finalized the design of a memorial to honor the individuals whose remains were discovered at the Baldwin Hall site. Much of the granite for the monument is being donated by an Oglethorpe County quarry, owned by a Georgia African American family for more than a century.
The quarry, part of the Millie Long estate in Carlton, will contribute more than 35,000 pounds of granite for the memorial, which will be located on the south end of the front lawn of Baldwin Hall, near Old Athens Cemetery. The memorial will serve as a place of remembrance for the individuals who were originally buried on this site in the 1800s, most of whom likely were slaves or former slaves.
Michelle Cook, UGA’s Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Strategic University Initiatives, is a member of the family that owns the quarry.
“Our family is proud to contribute to this historic project, which will serve as permanent tribute to the memory of these individuals,” Cook said. “This project is particularly important to me because of my own family history in the Athens area, which dates back more than 150 years. It was an honor to work with the task force to design a memorial that will provide a tranquil, reflective place for our entire community.”
The memorial, which will complement the aesthetic of the university grounds, will include:
- a circular form for the memorial plaza, creating a focal point that will serve as a place of contemplation to honor and respect these individuals;
- an elevated fountain in the center of the memorial plaza;
- a granite marker, purposefully designed with elements similar to the marker at Oconee Hill Cemetery, which will include text about the memorial;
- two granite benches facing the granite marker; and
- vertical elements that will create a sense of ascension and will provide visibility from the street.
The design was recommended by members of the Baldwin Hall Memorial Advisory Task Force, appointed by President Jere W. Morehead and chaired by Vice Provost Cook. Its 18 members included representatives from the university and the local community. Members worked throughout the summer to develop the design.
“I am grateful to Dr. Cook and the members of the task force for their compassion, thoughtfulness and dedication to this important endeavor for our campus community,” said President Morehead. “The memorial they have helped to develop not only will further honor the lives of the individuals whose remains were discovered, but it also will serve as a source of contemplation and inspiration for generations to come.”
Construction will begin soon, and a dedication ceremony will be held later this fall, at a date to be determined.
The members of the advisory task force included:
- Alicia Battle, Director for Workforce Development at Goodwill of North Georgia and Chair of the Clarke County Mentor Program;
- Dawn Bennett-Alexander, Associate Professor of Employment Law and Legal Studies;
- Paige Carmichael, Professor of Veterinary Pathology;
- Michelle Cook, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Strategic University Initiatives (Chair);
- Gwynne Darden (Ex Officio), Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning;
- Dexter Fisher, Director of Services in the Facilities Management Division;
- Ammishaddai Grand-Jean, President of the Student Government Association and senior double majoring in economics and political science;
- Mike Hamby, Athens-Clarke County Commissioner for the 10th District and small business owner;
- Lawrence Harris, Director of the Athens Community Career Academy with the Clarke County School District;
- Kathy Hoard, Former Clarke County Commissioner and recipient of the 2018 ATHENA Award for community involvement;
- Meredith Gurley Johnson, Executive Director of the UGA Alumni Association;
- The Honorable Steve Jones, U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Georgia;
- The Rev. Benjamin Lett, Pastor of the Hill Chapel Baptist Church;
- Charlie Maddox, Athens Rotary Club President and Member of the Athens Housing Authority Board of Commissioners;
- Alison McCullick, UGA Director of Community Relations;
- Arthur Tripp, Assistant to the President of UGA;
- Victor Wilson, Vice President for Student Affairs; and
- Henry Young, Kroger Associate Professor of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy and President of the Black Faculty and Staff Organization.
The remains of the individuals were first discovered during construction of an addition to Baldwin Hall in November 2015. They were reinterred at Oconee Hill Cemetery in March 2017, in accordance with guidance from the State Archaeologist’s Office.
The university held a memorial service to commemorate their lives, and a granite marker was placed at the gravesite. Acknowledgment in the form of a plaque also was placed inside the new entrance of the Baldwin Hall addition.