The University of Georgia will dedicate a new memorial at Baldwin Hall in tribute to those who were buried there. The dedication will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 16.
“I am grateful for the work of the members of the advisory task force and for their holistic approach in designing this memorial,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “This memorial will provide the university and local community with an opportunity for meaningful reflection and will permanently honor the men, women and children who were buried on this site more than a century ago.”
Morehead is one of three individuals scheduled to speak at the ceremony. The others will be the Honorable Steve Jones, U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Georgia, and Michelle Cook, UGA’s Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Strategic University Initiatives.
The memorial, located on the south end of the front lawn of Baldwin Hall, near Old Athens Cemetery, 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. The memorial includes more than 35,000 pounds of granite donated by an Oglethorpe County quarry on land that has been owned by a Georgia African American family for more than a century. Cook is a member of the family that owns the property.
The memorial, which will complement the aesthetic of the university grounds, also includes:
- 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 a 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, a group of 18 representatives from the university and the local community appointed by Morehead. Cook chaired the task force, and Jones was a member. Other members 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;
- 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 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.