by Dr. Jajuan Johnson, Lemon Project Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
The Lemon Project congratulates the Village Initiative for Equity in Education, William & Mary faculty and students, and the area Black descendant communities on revealing the online exhibition “Life in the Reservation Community.” The website tells the story of an autonomous African American community in York County established before the Civil War and upended in the 1920s by eminent domain to build what is now the Naval Weapons Station.
The unveiling on Saturday, February 4, drew a crowd of over 250 Reservation descendants at William & Mary’s School of Education. The project’s first phase provides a comprehensive rendering of the people who lived on the Reservation, the complexity of freedom pre-and post-Civil War, entrepreneurship tied to the York River, and a range of primary sources on local Black church history. The project’s next phase will cover the topics: Dispossession and Protest, Resilience: Rebuilding a Legacy, and Intergenerational Trauma and Activism Today.
The Reservation history is not singular but contains numerous narratives of families in York County and connections beyond the Commonwealth of Virginia. During the Lemon Project’s 13th Annual Spring Symposium, there will be two panels on the Reservation history and its legacies: Where Do We Go From Here?: A generational discussion of The Reservation Experience; Life in the Reservation Community: Community-University Partnerships for Public Research.
The symposium themed, At the Root: Exploring Black life, History, and Culture, has three objectives:
- Reflect on what is happening in African American communities and consider how these communities transform narratives.
- Explore the ways that colleges and universities work with African American communities.
- Contribute to strategies and best practices for institutions dealing with their involvement in slavery and its legacies.
Join us at the 2023 Lemon Project Spring Symposium to learn more about the Reservation and other public humanities projects. Participants will also discuss current topics related to Black life and culture.