Artist Gabriela Aroche and her family with her artwork.
Photo by Steve Hibbard.
Hundreds of people attended the Black Women United for Action's (BWUFA) 27th Annual Slave Memorial Wreath-Laying Ceremony at George Washington's Mount Vernon on Saturday, Sept. 30. The event honored the 300 slaves who lived at Mount Vernon plantation during George Washington's life time.
Hosted by BWUFA and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, the event featured performances and music in recognition of the slaves’ contributions to the early formation of this nation. The ceremony was dedicated to the memory of Oney "Ona" Judge, a personal slave to Martha Washington.
According to Catherine Hogan, spokesman for BWUFA: "We've been doing this for several years and our effort here is all about bringing life to the people who lived here. They're not just names; they're not just property as they were once considered. They were people; they had lives; they had children; they had aspirations; and they had skills. And this event is about remembering that those were people and they were helpful and instrumental in building our nation."
Some of the performers included the Howard University Concert Choir, the Virginia State University Concert Choir, the Heritage Fellowship Church Choir of Reston, the Taratibu Youth Association of Drummers, and the Nikki Giovanni Youth Readers, among others. Students from Sandburg Middle, Whitman Middle, and Mount Vernon High School also participated in the ceremony.
After the program, guests proceeded to the Slave Memorial outside where screenwriter and producer La Toya Morgan and author Erica Armstrong Dunbar performed a special wreathlaying ceremony. Visitors placed boxwood sprigs on the Slave Memorial’s stone steps emblazoned with “Faith, Hope, Love.” The memorial with a gray granite column at the center of three concentric brick circles was designed by students of Howard University's School of Architecture.