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RVADirt @RVAdirt
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Tonight is the meeting at VCU where they will present the recommendations made by the Family Representative Council for the East Marshall Street Well Project. We will be live tweeting in this thread. 🧜🏻‍♀️
Here is the agenda for the evening. We are in the Kontos Building auditorium. 🧜🏻‍♀️
The meeting begins with a ceremony to honor the ancestors by Janine Bell of the Elegba Folklore Society. She says we honor those who “completed their cycle of life in a dry well” and experienced “callous objectification in the name of medical research.” 🧜🏻‍♀️
6th District #RVACouncil member Ellen Robertson is giving welcome remarks. She was part of the planning committee. They set out to “honor those who were dishonored” and “respectfully recount” the history. 🧜🏻‍♀️
There are approximately 50 people in attendance. It is a mix of people including community members, people from VCU, the family representative council, and more. 🧜🏻‍♀️
Robertson thanks everyone who is here to witness the work that still needs to be done and the promises that are being made here tonight. 🧜🏻‍♀️
Don Edwards is giving context of how we got here to this meeting. 🧜🏻‍♀️
Edwards speaks on how much had to happen for people to assume a role of responsibility and care and across the span of 150 years.

“Folks they will never know except for through their imagination.”
“I know I am my great great great grandparents dream.” - Don Edwards

Says project impacted him personally and redefined his work.
Dr. Joseph Jones is a professor of anthropology at William and Mary and is the chair of the Family Representative Council. He will be presenting the recommendations.
He thanks Dr. Utsey for his film, Until the Well Runs Dry that brought attention to this history.

BTW If you are interested in the movie, please register for our waitlist and info on future screenings here:
From efforts around the New York African Burial Ground an ethical clientage model. From 4 community consultations, they created the Family Representative Council which was 10 members to act as surrogate family members.
From there it was a 3 step process as outlined below. 🧜🏻‍♀️
He speaks on how the council was completely fine with no scientific research considering the history of the people being “sacrificed for the development of medical science.” But, the community felt otherwise. And they recognized science can be done respectfully.
“They didn’t need to be in anyone’s collection. They needed to come home.”
In considering research, they talked about Scientific Research, Oral History, Ethnography. Here are the recommendations.
Research Recommendations continued.
He emphasizes the need to lay the ancestors to rest be recounting the emotional experience of walking into a room and the human remains were unexpectedly on the table. Many members of the FRC cried.
Here are the recommendations for memorialization. This includes both physical memorials, memorialization events with medical students, formal codified guidelines, researching slavery in VCU’s history. 🧜🏻‍♀️
The recommendations for interment.
He noted that the ancestors may not be of the West African tradition; however, the African Burial Grounds are of that tradition and there is a direct connection to those grounds.
“We can retroactively make black lives matter.”
Michael Rao, President is VCU is giving his remarks. He is thanking the previous speakers and people involved in this project.
“What I see from the recommendation is we have thoughtful partners and advocates.”

“Ultimately what we’ll do is recognizing and honoring the people.”

“We can’t reverse the past but we can change the future.”
Rao acknowledges that what happened in the past was horrific and wrong and noted that VCU and all of its predecessor institutions acknowledge and apologize that it is wrong. Unfortunately not everyone always thought it was wrong.
Rao sees starting to implement recommendations will take things to the next level “as we continue to use VCU as a vehicle to shape society through our students and community”
Kevin Allison from VCU says he won’t be redundant. He thanks everyone of the FRC. He explains that the next step is 3 groups are currently being formed as a steering committee to work on the implementation. Nominate yourself or others in the form below.…
Marsha Rappley is giving closing remarks.

“These lives do matter. These are humans.”

Says this work is how they prevent these atrocities from happening again. History repeats itself. This has to be deeply integrated into our reality.
That is this evening’s program. There is a reception upstairs.
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