The Center for Local Knowledge

As the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center celebrates our 10th year we’re excited to announce a reorganization. We are launching the Center for Local Knowledge.

With the Center for Local Knowledge the JSAAHC is combining the best parts of our community’s local history and genealogical research with the wealth of our region’s oral histories and justice-oriented reparative activism. 

“We want to re-establish African American communities within the social spaces of Charlottesville’s historical narrative by lifting up both public and cultural histories,” said JSAAHC Executive Director Dr. Andrea Douglas. “We aim to activate this information and to give those who have worked to build Charlottesville and the surrounding regions of Central Virginia their due.”

At the heart of the Center for Local Knowledge is a Community Advisory Committee made up of local Black residents whose families are rooted in this history. Representing every Black neighborhood, past and present, the Committee guides and determines the Center for Local Knowledge’s priorities and helps the JSAAHC identify the most pressing community needs. 

This Committee will disrupt traditionally extractive models of history-telling by repositioning power, agency, and authority within the hands of the people who have lived, and continue to live, this history. Together, they will determine what community narratives we prioritize and hold at the core of our historical interpretation.

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