Charlottesville High School staff to explore racial, ethnic history on city tour today

Charlottesville High School administrators, teachers, and school counselors will load several buses Friday afternoon to take an educational tour of Charlottesville to learn more about the city’s history from a racial and ethnic perspective.

“The Racial and Ethnic History of Charlottesville, Virginia” tour is a joint effort by Charlottesville City Schools, the City of Charlottesville’s Office of Human Rights, the University of Virginia, and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center to explore the city’s past since the 1800s.

“It is important for everyone to understand the history of a place where they work and live,” said Office of Human Rights Manager Charlene Green. “It’s one thing to see pictures in a presentation, but it’s even more powerful when you can be in that space and see the places where people now live and how that connects to events of the past.”

The CHS staff will visit various historical landmarks throughout the city, including Court Square where enslaved African-Americans were auctioned in the 1800s, several statues in the downtown area, and Vinegar Hill, a neighborhood that became the center of the Black community before it was demolished in 1964, displacing nearly 600 residents and closing more than 40 African-American owned businesses.

The tour will also visit the UVA Rotunda where Vice Provost for Academic Outreach Lewis P. Nelson will share UVA’s history involving enslaved workers. The tour will conclude at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center where Executive Director Andrea Douglas will share the history of massive resistance in Charlottesville area schools. Douglas will also share with educators how they can use the Center as a resource for their lesson plans and curriculum.

CHS Principal Dr. Eric Irizarry believes the tour will help his staff better serve CHS students and families.

“It is critical for my faculty to understand the history of Charlottesville from a racial & ethnic perspective,“ said Irizarry. “The tragedies our African American communities faced still greatly impact our communities and families.”

CHS plans to have other professional development opportunities throughout the year that also focus on Charlottesville’s past.