Advocacy

Black in Historic Preservation's

Letter of Support for the

Montpelier Descendants Committee

New York, New York, April 11, 2022 We, the members of Black in Historic Preservation, people who are descendants of Black and Indigenous people enslaved by Europeans in the United States who are practitioners and students of historic preservation around the world, support the Montpelier Descendants Committee (MDC). We support their efforts in telling a fuller history about their 300+ ancestors who James Madison, Sr., and then President James Madison and his wife, and Dolley Madison enslaved, whose families they separated, tortured, and sold for their own financial benefit and status. We stand in support of their work and current efforts in reinstating the much-celebrated board of directors structural parity, i.e., 50 percent board membership with The Montpelier Foundation (TMF).


Descendant communities have as much, if not more of a say in the practice and governance of places of contention, i.e., plantations, i.e., forced labor camps of the United States. The rejection of structural parity by TMF is unacceptable and does not honor the legacy of the people enslaved by James and Dolley Madison who built and maintained Montpelier.


We celebrate MDC in organizing themselves as a 501(c)3, an effort that shows their commitment to self-determination. We honor them in their request to TMF to issue a statement following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in 2020 that told a fuller story about James Madison. And, we call upon TMF to reinstate the structural parity that grants MDC the autonomy to select among their contingency the board members for their representation, which is the just thing to do.


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Black in Historic Preservation (BiHP) is a program of kennedy Whiters and Associates, LLC. In February 2021, it premiered with the launch of the Black Preservationists Directory. Since then, it has produced a Job Board that is a resource of equitable practices in hiring.


Revision posted on April 12, 2022 at 1:30pm EST: Previous version of the letter published on April 11, 2022, incorrectly stated in the concluding sentence, “reinstate the structural parity that grants TMF the autonomy…” instead of as it now reads, “reinstate the structural parity that grants MDC the autonomy…”. Thank you for the revision and grace for the mistake. The statement now reads in full support of MDC.

For more information, visit the Montpelier Descendants Committee's website.

To read the structural parity announcement, click here.