Mabel O. Wilson

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Last July KKK march in Charlottesville, Virginia protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument that dominated a city park was in some way a rag-tag reenactment of the Klan march that celebrated the statue's unveiling in 1924.

Then as now, the public monument venerated Southern heritage as the mythic deeds of Confederate martyrs, but more signifcantly it elevated Lee as a sentinel of white supremacy to remind black residents daily of the limits of their citizenship and humanity. This and other recent controversies, such as public murders of unarmed African American men and women by the police, beg the question of whether or not public space in the United States remains racialized, divided, and dangerous to black life despite landmark strides in civil rights. As a cultural historian who has written about the National African American Museum of History and Culture and as a designer of UVA’s Memorial for Enslaved African American Laborers, Mabel O. Wilson will explore the current and historical intersections of race, architecture, and the public realm.

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