The Hallowed Ground Project

Our issue is that there was poor communication to students regarding the logistics of Hallowed Ground Project which suggested that students, particularly students of color, would not have a voice in the creation and facilitation Hallowed Ground Project.

However, we commend the Hallowed Grounds project itself, which is described in the following email sent to the student body by Kent Devereux on October 16, 2019, at 9 AM:

Dear Goucher community,

I am very pleased to share with all of you today a press release that we will be sending out this morning announcing a major new commitment by Goucher College to recognize the role of slavery on the land that Goucher College occupies today.

Unlike some other higher education institutions, Goucher College never owned slaves. In fact our founder John Franklin Goucher was committed to access to education for all. He not only helped found our institution, the Women’s College of Baltimore, later renamed Goucher College, but Morgan College as well, the first college for African-American students in Maryland, what is today Morgan State University.

Goucher College was founded in 1885, twenty years after the conclusion of the Civil War and the end of slavery in America. So, some may ask: why is Goucher College concerned with this.

Quite frankly, because almost all land in states like Maryland where slavery was legal prior to the Civil War has a legacy of slavery. Enslaved Americans were born, worked, married, had children, lived and died upon this land, yet were not afforded the rights and privileges that we know as Americans. We owe it to them, to ourselves, and to our nation as a whole to understand who they were and honor their legacy.

To that end, today we are announcing the Hallowed Ground Project, a multi-year effort designed to better understand the history of slavery that occurred on our land prior to the Civil War and to memorialize in some fashion that legacy so we and future generations can continue to come to terms with what that means to be American. The project consists of four significant components:

First, the Board of Trustees has approved a resolution amending our original 1921 land deed to remove racist language present in our deed a full 55 years after the end of the Civil War. The deed has been amended and refiled with the County. We believe we are one of the first colleges in Maryland to do this.

Second, we are launching a faculty/student research project led by Goucher’s Assistant Professor of History James Dator, that will seek to understand through the detailed examination of slave era records exactly who was enslaved upon this land.

Third, we will be sponsoring a multi-year historical archaeology project that will seek to understand what physical evidence may still remain upon our property and what actually occurred here.

Finally, we will seek to publicize and memorialize our findings. That might be a public exhibition, a book, an interactive walking tour, or a physical memorial. Quite honestly, we don’t know yet what form or forms this may take. We will see where the evidence leads us and then seek community input on the best way to memorialize and honor those who were enslaved here.

To keep the community abreast of ongoing developments we have launched a dedicated website ( www.goucher.edu/hallowedground ) that will provide the Goucher community and the public at large with updates.

We are also joining the Universities Studying Slavery, a consortium of colleges committed to better understanding the role of slavery in America.

I would encourage you to check out the Hallowed Ground Project website and if this issue is important to you, reach out to project leader James Dator to find out how you might become involved over the next several years.

– Kent

Kent Devereaux, President