Leah D. Williams

In Response To
White Saviors

August 21, 2020

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On August 9, 1865, just five days after Lee was installed as Washington College President,10 my third great-grandparents Robert and Emeline Parker signed their first labor contract as free people. Their written mark was recorded on an agreement to work on the same Mississippi plantation they were sold to by the school. That contract signifies the beginning of Robert and Emeline’s long journey as former slaves to amass generational wealth for their family. This while Lee, and arguably the university, grew fat off the marrow provided by theirs and other Black bodies. To honor Lee, the university bears his name as does the chapel under which he is buried. And to my ancestors and their fellow men and women in bondage, the university has dedicated a plaque. Titled “A Difficult, Yet Undeniable History,” the plaque was erected four years ago and stands near the hall previously named for their former master Robinson.11 The disparity in veneration and acknowledgment speaks volumes and further rips open the unhealed wounds of slavery.