The University of Georgia will convene an advisory task force, composed of representatives from both the campus and local community, to evaluate options for design and location of a memorial at Baldwin Hall in tribute to those who were buried there. The memorial will be dedicated in the fall, on a date yet to be determined.
The university is taking this action following the completion of a mapping study led by Marguerite Madden and Sergio Bernardes, director and associate director, respectively, of the Center for Geospatial Research in the Department of Geography. The university’s Office of Research commissioned the study last spring, following the discovery of human remains at the Baldwin Hall construction site and their reinterment at Oconee Hill Cemetery, in accordance with the guidance of the State Archaeologist’s Office.
Initial DNA analysis of the remains revealed the vast majority of those tested were of maternal African descent; therefore, considering the age of the remains, the individuals were most likely slaves or former slaves. The university held a memorial service to commemorate their lives, and a granite marker, detailing what transpired, was placed at the gravesite. Acknowledgment in the form of a plaque also was placed inside the new Baldwin annex entrance.
“We have abided by one guiding principle throughout this entire process: to treat the remains of those buried on the Baldwin Hall site with dignity and respect,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “This memorial will demonstrate our commitment to further honor their lives in a very public and visible way. I am grateful to the members of the community, faculty, staff and student body who will now advise us on how best to proceed.”
The 18-member Baldwin Hall Memorial Advisory Task Force will be led by Dr. Michelle Garfield Cook, the university’s Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Strategic University Initiatives. The full group includes:
- 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 Garfield Cook (Chair), Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Strategic University Initiatives;
- 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.
“A memorial to commemorate the lives of the individuals buried at the Baldwin Hall site provides an opportunity for the entire community to reflect on our shared history as we continue to build a promising future,” said Cook. “I look forward to working with this task force of dedicated campus and community leaders on this important project.”