ARTH 354 Georgetown Memorial Proposal

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ARTH 354 Georgetown Memorial Proposal


Georgetown University


Proposal for a memorial at Georgetown University commemorating the university's history of slavery. This proposal comes from the students in Georgetown Professor Shana Klein's AMTH 354 African-American Art and Culture course in the fall 2016 semester.


AMTH 354 Fall 2016


Georgetown Slavery Archive




Dr. Shana Klein, Cait Kennedy, Sarah Henderson, Nik Sonfield, Phillip Spradley


Cait Kennedy, Sarah Henderson, Nik Sonfield, Phillip Spradley







Text Item Type Metadata


ARTH 354 African-American Art and Culture
Dr. Shana Klein
Cait Kennedy, Sarah Henderson, Nik Sonfield & Phillip Spradley
November 15, 2016
Georgetown Memorial Proposal

Brief Summary (25 words)
We, the 2016 fall course on African-American art, propose erecting a two-part memorial in the form of a life-size willow tree, accompanied by height markers throughout campus memorializing the 272 slaves.

Detailed Explanation (250 words)
Part One of the Memorial:
Each handwritten name of the 272 slaves will be engraved on the roots of a sculpture in the shape of large willow tree. Willows are a common symbol for mourning, but they also serve as symbols of strength and healing. Willows have extensive and widespread root systems which support their considerable dimensions. A willow tree, like our University, continues to grow in size and strength with the passage of time. As Georgetown attempts to address its roots in slavery, so too will it endeavor to grow into a stronger and more socially just institution.

A plaque explaining the memorial will be placed in front of the sculpture. This plaque will bisect the willow tree, which has tree rings representing the passage of time. Each ring will be labeled with important moments from Georgetown’s history, including the University’s past dealings with slavery and racial injustice. There will also be rings without labels to mark future events formative to Georgetown’s identity.

Part Two of the Memorial:
Two hundred seventy-two markers will be placed on various walls in high-traffic areas throughout campus. In the same way that parents today mark the height of their child on a door frame, markers will be etched into or painted on campus walls, marking the specific height of the enslaved individual. Markings will also include the person’s name and age, emphasizing how many of the sold slaves were in fact children. Placed in accessible locations, students and faculty will be able to compare their own heights to the markings. These markings are an act of resistance to the erasure of slave labor on campus and the historic erasure of the slaves’ humanity.


AMTH 354 Fall 2016, “ARTH 354 Georgetown Memorial Proposal,” Georgetown Slavery Archive, accessed July 22, 2024,