Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Uncommon Sense—the blog

Building on the Legacy: Lemon Project Symposium March 16-17, 2018

· March 14th, 2018 · No Comments

Today’s post is courtesy of Ravynn Stringfield, graduate student in American Studies at William & Mary and Lemon Project Graduate Assistant. The Omohundro Institute applauds the work of the Lemon Project and has supported several past events. Most recently, the OI has joined forces with the Lemon Project to co-sponsor the OI-W&M Lemon Project Postdoctoral Fellowship, a two-year residential fellowship for the study of the history of institutions and economies of oppression. Supported by the Ronald Hoffman Fund in Honor of the OI’s Director Emeritus, the fellowship term begins July 1, 2018. Vineeta Singh, currently a doctoral candidate in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego, will come to Williamsburg to continue her research on race, racism, and U.S. higher education as OI-W&M Lemon Project Postdoctoral Fellow.

A full schedule for this weekend’s symposium is available online. The event is free and open to the public. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, March 16, at the Sadler Center on the campus of William & Mary. For more information, contact

by Ravynn Stringfield

The Lemon Project is a multifaceted approach to understanding and rectifying wrongs perpetrated against African Americans by William & Mary during the eras of slavery, segregation and beyond. In our attempt to build bridges between the College, African Americans, and the greater Tidewater area, we not only research surrounding slavery and segregation histories, but also provide programming for the student and community populations. One of our many community engagement endeavors is our annual Lemon Project Symposium, currently in its eighth iteration.

This year the Lemon Project is proud to co-sponsor the symposium with the 50–Year Commemoration Committee. In honor of the 50th anniversary of residential African American students at the College, the 2018 symposium’s theme is “Desegregating Higher Education in Virginia: William & Mary in Historical Context.”

Panels on Friday, March 16, include an artist’s talk with Steve Prince, a roundtable that explores the relationship between William & Mary and the local African American community, and a roundtable on contextualizing the work of this year’s keynote speaker, Virginia Tech University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni—perhaps best known for her involvement as a writer during the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. W&M Professor Hermine Pinson will introduce Dr. Giovanni, who will speak after a short performance by the Leah Glenn Dance Theatre.

On Saturday, March 17, sessions include a panel discussion of the history of desegregating the University of Richmond, featuring undergraduates from the university, and a roundtable that will explore the desegregation of higher education in general and in particular at William & Mary. The final roundtable will focus on a discussion of how to move forward while respecting the legacy of those who came and built before us.

As with past Lemon symposiums, the 2018 program will feature many artistic elements. From an interactive workshop with artist Steve Prince (registration required) that commemorates the contributions of Mr. Lemon (inspiration for and namesake of The Lemon Project) to an evening performance by local playwright Valarie Gray Holmes, the weekend will offer many opportunities to explore the relationship between art and historical context. A student-initiated Open Mic in Small Hall will be the culminating event.

This year’s Symposium promises to inspire impactful conversations and feature galvanizing presentations by scholars, community members and undergraduate students alike. We welcome all perspectives to this gathering and hope that you will join us to “Build on the Legacy.”

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