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Category: Lemon Project Team

Celebrating Black History Month in the Archives

Dr. Jajuan Johnson and Sierra Manga, the Lemon Project intern for Spring 2024, are starting Black History Month at William & Mary Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. They are making major findings on African Americans who worked at William & Mary in the early twentieth century.

For example, Dr. Johnson and Ms. Manga found an invoice to the college from Samuel Harris’s Dry Goods’ Store. Harris was a wealthy African American businessman who lived in Williamsburg in the late 1800s. His store remained open after the 1902 Virginia Constitutional Convention, which disenfranchised African Americans in the commonwealth. Harris died in 1904 and is buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery. We look forward to sharing more findings at the Lemon Project Genealogy Research Roundtable on February 15th at 6 pm.

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My Semester with Dr. Allen: The Intrinsic Benefits of In-Depth Historical Research

by Nicholas Prather, Lemon Project Spring 2023 intern

Booker T. Washington. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2016857180/
Front Page Clipping of The Flat Hat, November 17, 1914 (Vol. IV, No. 7)

Over this past semester, I spent two to three hours each week working as a research intern with Lemon Project Director Dr. Jody Allen. During my experience, I learned about the inevitable bumps in the road that come with careful historical research. However, over the four months we spent together, I feel I also came to appreciate those roadblocks and understand their purpose when it comes to discovering something meaningful ̶ something that can change the scope of what we know. When we started working together in the first few weeks of the semester, we initially focused our research on the exploits of nineteenth-century Wiliam & Mary Chemistry Professor Dr. John Millington, specifically his alleged experimentation on Black children in the Williamsburg area through some sort of shock therapy. But, as we sifted through dozens of pages of old correspondence in the Special Collections Reading Room, not to mention pages of nearly incomprehensible cursive that needed deciphering, we learned that it may not be as feasible as we thought to come to any conclusions about Millington, given how much careful close reading it would require. But failure to get immediate results in research, albeit a regularity, is never really a failure – it’s an inherent and important part of the process. After spending a few non-fruitful weeks on Millington, we decided to start looking at the history of illustrious Black educator and speaker Booker T. Washington’s history and relationship with William & Mary. Using Special Collections’ digital archives, I uncovered two separate Flat Hat articles (it’s amazing when your school newspaper is so historic to where it can be a reliable primary source!) that described two separate visits Washington made to the College in 1913 and 1914, just before his death in 1915. Under the presidency of Lyon Gardiner Tyler, both students and faculty were let off from classes to witness Washington’s awesome speeches in the Williamsburg Chapel and Courthouse. After weeks spent devoid of results, it was quite fulfilling to learn that a figure so pivotal to race relations in Gilded Age America had a relationship with the William & Mary administration.

In the end, even though there is still far more that can be wrung out of the research into both Millington and Washington, my semester with Dr. Allen was still a uniquely enriching experience. The growth mindset necessary for productive research can be stunted when we expect to see immediate results. Careful and critical historical research requires patience, precision, and pathos, none of which can be expected mere days or weeks into the process. And when we start thinking of research as steps in an inherently beneficial process that tempers our character and critical thinking alike, regardless of “success” or “failure” (whatever that means), that is when we truly start to see the fruits of our labor manifest themselves in personal and intellectual growth.

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Sharpe Community Scholar’s Reflections on Working with the Lemon Project

By Alexis Beck, William & Mary Sharpe Scholar, with Caroline Watson, Lemon Project Graduate Assistant

Reflecting on my time at The Lemon Project, I can’t help but be amazed at how fun and interesting it has been. The project itself is dedicated to uncovering and preserving lesser-known pieces of history, particularly those concerning the African American communities at William & Mary and in Williamsburg broadly. However, a singular photo captivated my attention and enhanced my experience as a first-year Sharpe Scholar.

During my involvement with The Lemon Project, I worked with Ph.D. student Caroline Watson to learn more about William & Mary’s archaeology documentary archive. During this work, Caroline found an intriguing photo in the Anthropology attic archive. When she had the time, she eagerly showed me this photo, which in physical form lacked proper documentation. There was no description or timestamp. It appeared to be from the early 1930s, possibly even the 1940s, based on the material context clues, like the style of archeology, the tools, the wooden shed, and the Oldsmobile-style car in the background. This photo became a captivating mystery project that Caroline and I embarked on. With further research, we eventually unraveled the mystery behind the photo. We learned that the photo was already well-documented by Colonial Williamsburg. It turned out to be a snapshot of the Governor’s Palace from 1930, featuring a group of unknown Black archaeologists who had worked on the earlier restoration of Colonial Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg’s Meredith Poole provides context on the photo here.

This photo piqued my interest because it demonstrated the major contributions made by Black archaeologists at a period when their presence in the field was frequently overlooked, marginalized, or outright erased. Indeed, this snapshot expands on our understanding of the physical and social aspects of archaeological operations in early 20th-century Williamsburg. Yet, some questions haunted us during this process of learning more about the photo. Questions like, “Who are the black men archaeologists depicted here?” and “Was their labor properly compensated and documented?” Moreover, we were left questioning how the context in which we encountered this photo—a standalone image with no description nor label—reproduces silences over these Black laborers, their identities, and their contributions to Williamsburg’s history. Given the blog post referenced above, Colonial Williamsburg has already been asking these questions. Perhaps The Lemon Project can help here, too.

Initially, when I signed up for the internship opportunity provided by Sharpe Scholars, I had anticipated mostly engaging in busy work. However, to my pleasant surprise, my time working alongside Caroline turned out to be thoroughly insightful and an exciting introduction to the roller-coaster that archival work often is. Little did I envision that we would embark on a short but thrilling adventure regarding the mystery photo.

Ultimately, my time at The Lemon Project has been immensely enriching. The identification of the photograph of Black archaeologists at the Governor’s Palace cellar excavation reignited my interest in history and reinforced my willingness to get further involved with the project. I’m delighted to go on new adventures during my next 3 years at W&M and continue to make a difference by researching and sharing long-ignored or forgotten narratives.

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New Lemon Project Research Findings on Slavery at William & Mary

by Dr. Jajuan Johnson

Lemon Project team members work daily to fulfill the mission of expanding the narrative of African Americans with historical ties to William & Mary. In the area of slavery research, we are accomplishing our goals of learning more about people enslaved by the university through genealogical research, community engagement, and rigorous archival research. Despite challenges ranging from scant information to destroyed records, persistence often leads to re-discoveries in centuries-old records warranting careful analysis.

Over the past two years, the Lemon Project Genealogy Initiative has built alliances with researchers in Williamsburg, the greater Tidewater area, and globally. Through training, our student interns help mine digital platforms and special collections to find extant sources providing more data about the lives of people once enslaved by the university. In fall 2022, Margaret Perry, a W&M alumnus and researcher at Colonial Williamsburg’s’ Apothecary Shop, met with Dr. Jody Allen, Lemon Project intern Alex Montano, and me to share medical account records that list names of people enslaved by William & Mary in the Galt Papers (Galt-Barraud Partnership, 1782-1799; John M. Galt I & Alexander D. Galt Operating as Galt & Son,1800-1808; and Alexander Galt, 1809 – 1841) located in the Special Collections Research Center at Swem Library.   

The Galt Family Medical Practice

The Galt family medical practice lasted in the Williamsburg and Yorktown area from the late eighteenth century through the nineteenth centuries. Dr. John Minson Galt, I was educated at William & Mary and received medical in Edinburgh and Paris. In addition to his extensive independent medical practice, whereby he treated people enslaved by William & Mary and others, Galt I was also an attending physician of the Public Hospital of Williamsburg (currently Eastern State Hospital), the first psychiatric hospital in the United States. His son, Dr. Alexander D. Galt, and grandson of Dr. John M. Galt, carried on his practice; both served as superintendents of the hospital.[i]

The Findings

The Galt-Barraud Papers are the professional and personal papers of the Galt family of Williamsburg in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The preliminary findings in the medical ledgers, notably the W&M account, revealed the following:

  • The names of 28 people enslaved by W&M
  • Lemon, who the Lemon Project is named after, is listed in the records 19 times from 1785 to 1814, indicating that he experienced health complications over a long period leading to his death.
  • Six people not previously on our list appear in the Galt Papers and have been added to Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved, as of March 2023
NameDates & Records
Miame1786, 1787, 1788, 1790,1791, 1793,1794, Galt-Barraud Partnership Papers
Miame’s Child1788, 1789,1790,1795, Galt-Barraud Partnership Papers
Jamie1787, Galt Barraud Partnership Papers
1812, Alexander D. Galt Medical Records
Jim1785, Galt-Barraud Partnership Papers
Jimmy1783, Galt-Barraud Partnership Papers
Franky’s Child1787, 1796, 1799, Galt-Barraud Partnership Papers

Our team, which includes Lemon Project intern Lena Bullard, a first-year William & Mary student, is further searching the records to gain clues about enslavers and the people held in bondage. These significant records provide additional information on the physical condition of people enslaved by the university, and there are lists of individuals and families of other enslavers.

MsV 5 – Galt-Barraud Ledger A, 1782-1797, fols. 116, 204. Galt Papers (I), series 3, box 3. Swem SCRC.

[i] Galt Family of Williamsburg Source: The William & Mary Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 4 (April 1900), pp. 259-262 (also see: W&M Knowledge Base, John Minson Galt, https://scrc-kb.libraries.wm.edu/john-minson-galt-1744-1808; see Dr. Barraud Historical Report https://research.colonialwilliamsburg.org/DigitalLibrary/view/index.cfm?doc=ResearchReports%5CRR1193.xml&highlight=

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The Local Black Histories Project Unveils New Research on a Free Black Community in York County 

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.  

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Meet William & Mary’s most recent Executive Director of Historic Campus

By Caroline Watson, Lemon Project Anthropology Graduate Assistant

Those who are well-connected with the Lemon Project likely know Dr. Susan Kern. To meet Susan is to learn of her extensive knowledge of the inner and outer workings of William & Mary’s Historic Campus. Her knowledge base of campus history is rarely surpassed! This is unsurprising given Susan’s connection to William & Mary as an alumnus (Ph.D., History) and the university’s most recent Executive Director of Historic Campus (2014-2021). Susan took over as Executive Director of Historic Campus in 2014, replacing previous director Louise Kale, who took the honorable position in 1995 (and in whose name the daffodil garden in the North Wren Yard is dedicated).

As a key figure who has shaped the narrative surrounding Historic Campus, especially the Wren Building, I sought to learn more about Susan’s role as Executive Director. On a warm afternoon last October, we gathered for a coffee and a brief interview. My initial curiosities surrounded Susan’s job requirements, as not many universities have an institutionalized Historic Campus, much less an Executive Director of it. I was indeed surprised to learn of the breadth and diversity of roles that were required of such a position.

Susan Kern and 18th-century drain uncovered near the Wren Building, 2019. Stephen Salpukas/William and Mary

During her time at William & Mary, Susan facilitated and upheld working relationships with many local and state-wide institutions, including the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the William & Mary Center for Archaeological Resources, the Muscarelle Museum, and facilities management. When she wasn’t occupied by the bureaucratic responsibilities that came with maintaining these relationships, Susan was tasked with managing Historic Campus’s resources. This management required not just a little bit of work and creativity from Susan; this was a colossal commitment on her part to care for the documents, artworks, and archaeological materials that belong to Historic Campus. A significant part of this care, we discussed, was focused on the archaeological resources. Susan herself was and is adequately prepared for such a task, given her experience working and directing Monticello’s archaeology department for 8 years. For those who may not know, W&M’s archaeological resources materialize in diverse forms. They range from technical reports, excavation descriptions and planning documents, publications, artifacts, and even the sites themselves. One of Susan’s most recent projects on Historic Campus oversaw the excavation of an 18th-century vaulted brick drain behind the Wren Building.

Historic Campus has been continuously occupied and used since the chartering of W&M in 1693—and long before that too. As such, Susan had her hands full writing, re-writing, and expanding the archaeological narrative of this landscape. In particular, Susan helped reframe thinking about campus as a site of slavery, including understanding the College (Wren) Building as William & Mary’s original slave quarter. Through her diligent work on Historic Campus and as a partner with the Lemon Project, Susan was committed to a more inclusive history at William & Mary.

Moreover, before leaving office, Susan composed a formal recommendation to Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary regarding the best practices for the management of the University’s archaeological resources. As part of her plan, I continue to use the documents and resources that she gathered as part of my Lemon Project fellowship investigating the history of archaeology and slavery at W&M. Thank you again, Susan, for all your work!

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How does archaeology (re)define place at William & Mary?

by Caroline Watson, Anthropology Graduate Assistant

Archaeology is intimately tied to the concept of place. Many think that archaeology is about discovering “new” places. Yet most often what archaeologists do is reveal places that already exist —places that have been ignored, reburied, or shifted around over time by natural or deliberate forces. A current of discovery does exist in the undertow of archaeological investigation, however, especially as we think of how social forces become entangled with the material world in ways that continuously create or reimagine meaningful places.

In thinking of how meaningful material places are constructed at William & Mary, it helps to keep an open mind. Let’s start with the brick walkways around campus—have they ever looked the same one day to the next? Really think about it! Every day, these bricks transport people to their campus destinations, and they are shifted around ever so slightly by the people who walk (or trip!) over them, steal them, or remove them to create space for new construction. Yet, despite these everyday delicate changes, many still perceive the bricks as a singular entity. Through this process, they have become a material index to William & Mary’s image, identity, and history. We can therefore imagine how these very human actions and experiences become embedded into William & Mary’s bricks. This is what makes them an inherently archaeological place imbued with cultural meaning.

But what happens when those bricks are associated with just one social history? The university, like many others, has intentionally maintained its brick aesthetic to uphold the image of William & Mary as a place for academic elites. Yet, this image is inherently constructed by whitewashing the university’s history and stripping away other social identities from the campus landscape. This becomes clear when we remember the free Black and enslaved workers who produced the bricks and buildings of Historic Campus themselves, but whose connection to the campus image has been historically and forcibly erased. In this way, bricks are a material entryway into understanding William & Mary’s construction of place.

Setting aside bricks for now (thank goodness, right?), my goal with the Lemon Project is to investigate other overlooked material places. By extension, this means I am also looking into the activities, behaviors, and people who are associated with campus places and who have long been overshadowed by colonial power. Materially speaking, the social lives and identities of enslaved peoples at William & Mary have been buried. For example, outbuildings, possibly associated with enslaved people, were destroyed during the construction of the Sunken Garden. Campus renovation projects have torn down buildings and drastically altered the campus landscape and its archaeological record. What’s more, all these physical changes are coated with layers of intentional forgetting. To reimagine William & Mary in more inclusive ways, then, we must first understand the processes through which non-white identities were disassociated from campus places and then work to re-associate this landscape with their experiences, activities, and presence.

There are several places we can start. As I have mentioned in previous Lemon Project presentations, one place where archaeology has helped materialize enslaved history is through the identification of a subfloor pit in the President’s House parking lot. This feature dates to around the mid-19th century based on the artifacts that came from it.[1] Archaeologists working in the mid-Atlantic region have long associated these dug-out features with enslaved living quarters.[2] I argue that such a finding on Historic Campus represents a possible place where the lives and labors of enslaved people emerge from the buried surface. In this perspective, the Wren Yard ceases to exist as a place of stagnant and permanent white history. Instead, it becomes an area of active archaeological inquiry.

William & Mary faculty, staff, and students are also constructing other material “ruptures” in new ways that create space for Black histories. Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved and the Sankofa Seed sculpture, for example, are two places where silenced memories at William & Mary erupt and exist on the campus landscape. Hearth (pronounced /härTH/) is a place that grounds multiple temporalities. It simultaneously rematerializes the presence of enslaved people at William & Mary while also fostering a new sense of belonging for students of color, past, present, and future. Recent excavations in the Wren South yard, close to where Hearth is now, also bring forth the memory of enslaved labor through material findings. Archaeologists identified a large saw pit in this area of Historic Campus, a feature that directly associates this space with labor activities, like brickmaking, food preparation, and butchering.[3] Enslaved people did this work. Thus, a strong link is forged between Hearth, which sits on the visible surface, and other material evidence of enslaved history that persists on campus below the ground. In this case, an archaeological perspective has helped to create a more meaningful and inclusive narrative about a place of Black history on campus. I hope that my work can continue to blend the past, present, and future in ways that help us reimagine places at William & Mary.


[1] Moore, W.H. (2006). Archaeological Survey and Evaluation of the Proposed Manhole Structure Project Area, President’s House Parking Lot, College of William and Mary, City of Williamsburg, Virginia. WMCAR Project No. 06-16. William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research, 40. Interested in seeing these reports? I’ve been digitizing them! Email lemon@wm.edu for a scan.

[2] Samford, Patricia (2007). Subfloor pits and the archaeology of slavery in Colonial Virginia. University of Alabama Press.

[3] Edwards, Andrew C. (2016). Archaeology of the South Wren Yard. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 79-107.

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The Lemon Project and Clemson University Exchange 

By Jajaun Johnson, Ph.D., Mellon Postdoctoral Research Associate

The Lemon Project is a model for other universities studying slavery and its legacies. The team recently participated in an opportunity to exchange lessons with Clemson University’s Woodland Cemetery and African American Burial Ground Historic Preservation Project and the Call My Name Project, both led by Professor Rhondda Robinson Thomas.  

The opening reception in the Department of History’s library.  

The three-day visit convened students, faculty, staff, and community partners who traded ideas and best practices on archaeology, participatory research, and community collaboration. “The opportunity to exchange ideas with our Clemson University colleagues was a gift. We highlighted the work of our outstanding students and on and off-campus partners,” Jody Allen, the Francis Engs Director of the Lemon Project, said.  

The meeting started with a dinner and a dynamic conversation with the Friends of the Reservation, Coming to the Table Historic Triangle, Divine Concept Group, Inc., the Bray School Lab, All Together, and the Village Initiative. Each representative discussed their organization’s or project’s mission and goals and outlined how they are spurring change in the public history landscape and through civic engagement. The group was officially welcomed to William & Mary by Dr. Chon Glover, the Chief Diversity Officer who recognized the work of the Lemon Project. She further discussed the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.  

Dr. Sarah Thomas leads Historic Campus tour

The Lemon Project interns and students who participated in the incubator grant program gave examples of their research and experiential learning opportunities. The graduate assistants led a session with the Clemson University graduate students on their archival and anthropological contributions to the study of slavery at W&M.  

W&M Special Collections granted our guests access to rare documents project researchers use to find the names and details about the people once enslaved by the university. Andre Taylor, William & Mary’s oral historian, demonstrated the uses of oral history to document African American foodways. Steve Prince, Artist and Director of Engagement at Muscarelle Art Museum, guided the group in a communal quilt-making exercise where they exchanged stories as a team-building exercise. Our visitors also had a chance to meet President Rowe and hear her thoughts about the importance of the universities studying slavery movement. 

Reverend Leslie Revilock presented the Lemon Project with the Building Connections and Bridging Differences Award.

In addition to the W&M’s Historic Campus tour, the Clemson group visited the First Baptist Archaeological Site, Bruton Heights School, and the Historic Oak Grove Baptist Church. Both university projects amplify the voices of the descendant communities, and visits to these sites provide an authentic connection to people interpreting their spaces and environments.   

After reflecting on the experience, Dr. Rhondda Thomas offered gratitude: “Thank you for organizing such a rich, informative, and enlightening visit for Clemson’s cemetery team. I’m still thinking about many things we heard from you and your community partners and viewed on and off campus. I’m so glad we were able to come.”  

The Lemon Project and Clemson University exchange is part of our ongoing efforts to share best practices and facilitate collaboration locally, regionally, and internationally on the study of slavery and its legacies. 

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Mellon Foundation Fellow Represents Lemon Project in German Professional Exchange

Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Jajuan Johnson is part of a cohort of fifteen experts dedicated to promoting an inclusive and progressive culture of remembrance in public spaces in Germany and the United States. Building a Diverse Culture of Remembrance (DAICOR) is an exchange program whereby participants explore how diversity, equity, and inclusion are implemented in memorial cultures.

Jajuan Johnson and Awet Tesfaiesus

During the Germany learning tour, Dr. Johnson introduced the Lemon Project as a model for reckoning with slavery and its legacies at higher education institutions to the cohort of artists, educators, activists, and nonprofit leaders. He also discussed service-learning as an intervention for understaffed cultural institutions doing reparative archival work and community-engaged research with citizens focused on decolonizing the public history landscape in Berlin and Hamburg.  

Jajuan Johnson and Hannimari Jokinen

The one-week visit involved conversations with political leaders such as Awet Tesfaiesus, the first Black woman elected to the German Parliament serving as Chairwoman of the Committee for Culture and Media. In addition to touring sites such as the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum and the Museum of Ethnology in Hamburg (MARKK), the fellows met with local civic actors with organizations such as Decolonial Memory Culture in the City, is a model project that aims to explore and make visible the past and present of the (anti-)colonial in Berlin, the rest of Germany and in Germany’s former colonies with the help of experts and activists worldwide.

The trip concluded with a lecture and discussion with artist and curator Hannimari Jokinen on the function of post-colonial memorials and strategies for reckoning with troubled pasts through community-engaged interpretation, as is reflected in the goals of Hearth Memorial to the Enslaved. As we collectively envisioned the uses of memorial sites, we agreed they are to be changeable, fluid, and provoking conversations that strengthen democratic societies. 

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At the Root: Exploring Black Life, History, and Culture Symposium Call for Proposals

The Lemon Project team invites you to submit proposals for the 13th Annual Lemon Project Spring Symposium, an in-person and virtual event, that will be held on March 24-25, 2023. View the Call for Proposals below.

About The Lemon Project: A Journey of Reconciliation

Founded in 2009 by the William & Mary Board of Visitors, the Lemon Project is the second institutionally funded project of its kind in the United States. The Lemon Project is a multifaceted and dynamic attempt to rectify wrongs perpetrated against African Americans by William & Mary through action or inaction. An ongoing endeavor, The Lemon Project explores and encourages scholarship on the 330-year relationship between African Americans and William & Mary. The Lemon Project builds bridges between William & Mary and African American communities through research, programming, and supporting students, faculty, and staff.

Call for Proposals

Individual papers or panels of 3 or 4 are welcome

The first Lemon Project Spring Symposium, held in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2011, “brought together students, faculty, and community members to discuss ongoing research into our past, as well as the ways that history continues to define relationships between African Americans and the university in the present.” In that vein, we return to our roots, centering local Black histories and their vast influences.  

The 2023 Spring Symposium will explore the following questions: In what ways are African American communities taking charge and telling their stories? How are colleges and universities working with local African American communities to foster belonging? What methods are communities and scholars using to tell fuller narratives of African American life, history, and culture? In what ways are researchers contributing to the emancipatory aims of Black Studies through research collaboration with Black communities?

Our symposium is multi-disciplinary and open to all. We seek proposals from people who focus on Black life, history, and culture, including but not limited to academic and descendant researchers, educators, activists, and members of Greater Williamsburg communities and beyond. We invite a broad range of topics from the fields of American Studies, Black Studies, Anthropology, History, Public Humanities, Preservation, and STEM. We also invite community organizers and activists to submit proposals in areas such as cultural production (art, poetry, music), wellness, and spirituality. We welcome submissions from people of all genders, including trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals.

Please submit your proposals by November 18, 2022.

The symposium has three main objectives, focusing on the past, present, and future:
  • Reflect on what is happening in African American communities and consider the ways these communities are transforming 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
 Possible topics include but are not limited to:
  • African American memory and heritage studies
  • Community engagement and best practices
  • Descendant communities and their histories
  • Environmental history, land conservation, and displacement
  • Family histories, local histories, and genealogical studies
  • Reparations and reparative efforts
  • Shared Authority and transforming narratives
  • Universities and colleges studying slavery and its afterlives
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