College hosts largest Lemon Project Symposium, over 700 register to attend


Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25, the College of William and Mary hosted the 13th annual Lemon Project Spring symposium titled “At the Root: Exploring Black Life, History, and Culture” at the School of Education and online over Zoom. The event was the largest Lemon Project symposium since its inception in 2009, with over 700 people registered to attend in-person and online. 

The event featured remarks from Robert Francis Engs Lemon Project Director Jody Allen, College Provost Peggy Agouris and Judge John Charles Thomas HON ’18. Over two days, the symposium presented 20 panel discussions on topics such as Black church history in Virginia’s Historic Triangle, the Braxton descendents, Black communities displaced in Colonial Williamsburg and navigation of Black culture today. 

“Acquiring knowledge about African American history is becoming more and more challenging,” Allen said. “Because of this, it is clear that establishing alternative venues to obtain this history is vital. That said, it is imperative that you share with your community what you learn this weekend.”

Agouris thanked the Lemon Project team and emphasized the importance of the project’s presence on the College’s campus. She also thanked the Williamsburg and Hampton Roads community members that have contributed to the project. 

“We won’t be able to make progress unless we are together, and together we can break down walls while building bridges – bridges between William and Mary and the people who live in the communities around us,” Agouris said. 

Thomas delivered the Keynote Speech on Friday morning, discussing the role of the symposium and the importance of recovering  the panel topics and truth of Black history in the Williamsburg area and beyond. 

“What we are trying to do in this moment is to go back and recover the history that has been lost of people that are so much intertwined in the building of America,” Thomas said. “The story is bigger than just the effort that we are talking about here today. This is an enormous effort, and in order to make this happen we are going to talk about how far we’ve come by faith, we’re going to talk about lynchings and the freedom trail. We’re going to talk about family gatherings in history. We’re going to talk about the tangled roots of whites and Blacks together and how you find the thread that linked us.”

Following the panels, the event concluded with a tour of the Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved. Some of the Lemon Project Symposium panel discussions and speeches are available to watch on the Lemon Project’s YouTube channel.


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