Officials at the University of Richmond have confirmed that part of its campus was probably built over the graves of enslaved people.
University President Ronald Crutcher said in a message to the campus community on Thursday that months of research turned up evidence that over the course of a century, university officials uncovered burial remains at the site of a former plantation lying beneath the campus.
The study cited documentary evidence from 1912 to 1956 showing officials previously acknowledged the existence of the burial grounds, and workers uncovered remains during construction.
The university president wrote, "The evidence includes:
- From around 1753 to 1865, hundreds of enslaved people lived, labored, and suffered under the plantation system on the land that is now our campus.
- In addition to the 1912 references to the cemetery, there are three other documented instances in which human remains were found near the southeastern edge of Westhampton Lake. This area — like known burial grounds for enslaved people — was located far from and at lower ground than the landowners’ homes.
- Several historical sources both refer to the existence of a burial ground and cite it as a place where African Americans were buried."
The university announced the creation of a memorialization committee to research ways to honor the people buried there.
"Only together can we tell a fuller history of this land, remembering and memorializing those whom existing narratives have excluded or forgotten," Crutcher wrote.