Back to all Events

Liberation and Freedom Days

February 28, 2021, 12:00 AM - March 7, 2021, 12:00 AM

At the time of the Civil War, 53.3 percent of the residents of Charlottesville and Albemarle County were enslaved, an historical fact which remained little known until the 2016 work of the city’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces (BRC). At the BRC’s recommendation, in 2017 the Charlottesville City Council proclaimed March 3 to be Liberation and Freedom Day. The celebration commemorates the March 3-6, 1865, arrival of Union cavalry in the area, when town and university officials surrendered at the current site of the UVA Chapel, and thousands of enslaved residents took the opportunity to escape and follow U.S. troops as they continued their advance toward Petersburg, Virginia.

Schedule of  Events 2021

Sunday February 28, 2021

  • 2:30 pm Slave Auction Vigil: Honoring the Ancestors webinar: Beloved Community Cville is hosting Slave Auction Block Vigil: Honoring the Ancestors  that will be live streamed from the Historic Court Square in downtown Charlottesville. Community members (Don Gathers, Cauline Yates, Apostle Sarah Kelley, Jalane Schmidt, Rev. Lehman Bates and others) will acknowledge the trauma which took place there and honor local enslaved ancestors. Due to COVID-19, this event is in-person for only the participants. Registar for the webinar HERE

Monday March 1 -6, 2021

Use QR code to go directly to Run/Walk registration.

 Reparations Fun Run/Walk: This fun community event takes place March 1-6.  We are raising funds to support the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center Teacher Training Program, the NAACP’s Youth Council, Vinegar Hill Magazine‘s Black business advertising fund, We Code Too, African American Teaching Fellows and 101.3 JAMZ. These organizations all have Black leadership and support the community directly. Our goal is to support them by raising $45,000 that will be divided between the six organizations.

The run/walk’s 9.03 mile route lets you engage with some of the city’s important African American history as well as the African American businesses along the way . Once registered, you can choose to run/walk this route anytime during the week of March 1st.  There are 3 ways to participate: 1.Register for the run/walk: There is no fee to Register for the event but we hope you will make a donation in support after registration. You can register as and individual or as a group. 2.Register as a Fundraiser: Register as a fundraiser and encourage others to help you meet a donation goal. When registering, sign up as a fundraiser and build a team.  Pledges are accepted at the fundraiser level. 3.Make a donation:  Not able to participate in the event, but still want to support?  Click the Donate button at the top of the event page and follow the prompts.

Monday March 1

Tuesday, March 2

Wednesday, March 3

  • 12 noon – 1:30 pm: Marching Toward Emancipation: Commemorating the Arrival of Union Troops in Charlottesville” webinar, Moderator: Carolyn Janney, director of the UVA Nau Center for Civil War History. Papers presented by Ervin Jordan, Research Archivist, UVA Small Special Collections Library, Voices and Faces of Black Liberation: Civil War Charlottesville, 1865. Will Kurtz, digital historian, UVA Nau Center for Civil War History, “Fighting for Union and Freedom: Albemarle County’s Black Soldiers and Sailors in the Civil War.” The event is sponsored by the UVA Democracy Initiative Memory Project, UVA Nau Center for Civil War History, UVA Office of Engagement Lifetime Learning.  Watch it here.
  • 1:50-2 pm: Bell Ringing UVA Chapel Bells rung to signify surrender of University and city of Charlottesville to Union troops. This event organized by Charlottesville Clergy Collective and St. Paul’s Memorial Church .
  • 6:00-7:00 pm: Keynote Address with Christy Coleman, With a career spanning over 30 years, Christy S. Coleman has served as the Chief Executive Officer of some of the nation’s most prominent museums. She’s a tireless advocate for the power of museums, narrative correction, diversity and inclusiveness. Ms. Coleman is an innovator and leader in the museum field having held leadership roles at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the American Civil War Museum and now the Executive Director of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. The event is sponsored by the Albemarle County Community Remembrance Project. If you missed the event you can watch it here

Thursday, March 4

  • 12 pm: Sam Towler, Researching the African Americans at Monticello During the Civil War, When two books came out in 2001 about the Levy ownership of Monticello, the enslaved community there was hardly mentioned. Over the years Sam Towler has researched the African American families who were at Monticello during the Civil War years. Sam will present a summary of his process and findings, and share the sources he used for his research. Sponsored by Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society. If you missed the program watch it here.
  • 6 pm: Theater of the Oppressed of NYC + Charlottesville Players Guild  collaboration workshop, Theatre of the Oppressed NYC partners with community members at local organizations to form theatre troupes. These troupes devise and perform plays based on their challenges confronting economic inequality, racism, and other social, health and human rights injustices. After each performance, actors and audiences engage in theatrical brainstorming – called Forum Theatre – with the aim of catalyzing creative change on the individual, community, and political levels. If you missed the event you can watch it here.

Friday, March 5

  • 1 pm: Descendants of Enslaved Communities at the University of Virginia presents: MEL LIVE – Follow The Path to Freedom: Virtual Event. Watch here

Saturday, March 6

  • 2pm: Film screening: “The Coachman” and “Byrdland”  Lorenzo Dickerson’s documentaries about Keswick-area plantations of Castle Hill & Turkey Hill, 90-minutes.  View on  Youtube Maupintown Media 

Sunday, March 7

  • 3pm: The Other Madisons, film screening and conversation with filmmaker Eduardo Montes Bradley and Bettye Kearse, author of “The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President’s Black Family (film 40 min)In this documentary, Bettye Kearse traces her ancestry to Mandy, her family’s first African ancestor enslaved on American soil and who became the property of President James Madison’s estate in Virginia, Montpelier. Kearse’s research, her encounters with cultural institutions, and her travels to Ghana, Portugal, Virginia, and Texas provide the contextual background of this genealogical journey. The family mantra: “Always remember—you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president” has now achieved a new level, that of the documentary film experience. If you missed the event you can watch it here.


Additional Programming:

Hoos Care: UVA student-athletes share their thoughts on Liberation and Freedom Day.




Liberation and Freedom Day 2021 events are sponsored by:  the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, UVA Democracy Initiative Memory Project, the University of Virginia Office for Diversity and Equity, Albemarle County Community Remembrance Project, the UVA Nau Center on Civil War History, Charlottesville City Schools, Albemarle County Schools, Virginia Humanities, the African American Pastors Council,  Beloved Community Cville, National Association of 100 Black Women Charlottesville Chapter, Reclaimed Roots Descendants Alliance,  Descendant of Enslaved Communities at UVA, Monticello and the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society.

Schedule of 2020 Events

Sunday, March 1, 2020

  • 3:00-5:00pm “Racial Justice and Black Feminism”: Bree Newsome & Zyahna Bryant and panel, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
  • 5:30-6:30pmSlave Auction Block Vigil: Honoring the Ancestors, Beloved Community Cville, Court Square

Monday, March 2, 5:00-6:30 pm

  • “Black Liberation in Civil War Charlottesville”, UVA Nau Center for Civil War History, Small Special Collections Harrison Auditorium

Tuesday, March 3

  • 4:00-5:30 pm: “Procession of Freedom” (starts at UVA Chapel, to UVA Freedom Ring Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, down Main Street to Jefferson School)
  • 5:30-7:00 pm: Community Dinner & panel discussion by descendants of local enslaved community, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

Wednesday, March 4, 6:00-8:00 pm

  • The Aeolians of Oakwood University concert, 1st Baptist Church

Thursday, March 5

  • 6:00-7:00pm Liberation & Freedom Day Collection Opening feat. the AHS Band, Gallery 110, Shops at Stonefield
  • 7:00-8:30pm “Hush Harbor: African-American Sacred Song” concert, The Haven

Saturday, March 7

  • 11:00 am, “A Place Fit For Women,” exhibit gallery talk, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
  • 12:00-4:00 pm, The Fortune Shop African American Vendors Market, Carver Recreation Center
  • 2:00-3:15 pm, Confederate Monuments Downtown Walking Tour, County Courthouse, Jefferson Street parks
  • 3:30-5:00 pm, Blue Ribbon Commission retrospective panel discussion & update on Virginia General Assembly local control over monuments bill, Central Library, McIntire Room
  • 5:00-7:00 pm, “Winneba Way” street re-naming, Ghanaian Independence Day celebration, 6 1/2 Street SW, Tonsler Park
  • 7:00-9:00 pm, Open Mic: Liberation Edition, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

Sunday, March 8, 2:00-4:00 pm

  • African-American Inter-Generational Trauma, Dr. Jessica Young-Brown, City Space

Liberation & Freedom Day Collections

The exhibit will feature the artwork of students enrolled in both Albemarle County and Charlottesville City Schools, side by side, and will be held in both school divisions.

The ACPS exhibit will be held at ACPS Visual Arts Festival at the Stonefield Shops from March 4th-March 29th in Gallery 150. The exhibit will be open to the public during shop normal shopping hours, generally 10-5.

The CCS exhibit will be held in the MLK Jr Performing Arts Center Lobby from February 28th – March 30. The exhibit will be open to the public Wednesday, March 11th from 4:30-6pm Saturday, March 14th from 10 am – 2 pm, and Wednesday, March 18th from 4:30–6 pm. Special arrangements to view the show at other times can be made by calling Aaron Eichorst at 434 245 2671.

All Liberation and Freedom Day events are free and open to the public.

Liberation and Freedom Day events are sponsored by: the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, the University of Virginia Office for Diversity and Equity, Institute for the Redress of Inequity through Community-Engaged Scholarship, the UVA Nau Center on Civil War History, the UVA President’s Commission on Segregation, the UVA Carter G. Woodson Citizen Justice Initiative, Charlottesville High School, Virginia Humanities, Jefferson Madison Regional Library, and the African American Pastors Council, and Beloved Community Cville.

  • Organizer Name: JSAAHC
  • Phone: (434) 260-8720
  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Type: Culture & Heritage,Special Event
  • Time: February 28, 2021 - 12:00 AM March 7, 2021 - 12:00 AM
  • Venue:Various Venues
  • Duration:Time Varies
Jefferson Heritage African American Center © 2020. All Rights Reserved