ORANGE, Va., March 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- At the lifelong home of President James Madison, where as many as 300 enslaved African-Americans once lived and worked, Dominion announced grants totaling more than $500,000 to support diversity initiatives in 2014. The majority of those funds will help highlight African-American history and heritage programs across Virginia.
"The work about to be done at Montpelier is a great example of how Dominion's funding can help provide an accurate, historical context about how our Virginia ancestors lived," said Robert M. Blue, president of Dominion Virginia Power. "Historians at Montpelier are actively listening to the descendants of the people who built this land."
The announcement was made at Montpelier, the 2,650-acre estate of America's fourth president and the father of the Constitution, to mark the start of a two-day workshop designed to solicit input from descendants of slaves and members of the Orange County African-American community about the interpretation of Montpelier's African-American history. James Madison's Montpelier organized the workshop with experts from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Tredegar, and The College of William & Mary.
A $50,000 grant to The Montpelier Foundation is being used to help fund the workshop, as well as to support ongoing archaeological excavations and research that will reveal the plantation landscape to allow the homes and working spaces of the enslaved community to be interpreted for the visiting public.
During the last 10 years, Dominion has contributed more than $400,000 to The Montpelier Foundation, most of which has been used to better understand and interpret the experiences of its enslaved community and the complexities of 19th century plantation life in the early years of the American republic.
In addition to funding the Montpelier project, Dominion, through the Dominion Foundation, is also underwriting the following projects to highlight African-American history and to support diverse initiatives:
The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities of Charlottesville has received $100,000 from Dominion to support a new project for Encyclopedia Virginia. The Foundation will create hundreds of new biographical entries telling the stories of free and enslaved men and women living in Virginia between 1691 and 1861, using their own words. Students, scholars, and the public will be able to research the online database to explore the impact that African culture and slavery have on Virginia society, politics, law, and culture.
The Jefferson School in Charlottesville has received $20,000 from Dominion for its biannual symposium celebrating and demonstrating the depiction of people of color in animated media.
The symposium will commemorate the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and consider representations of race in American popular culture during the 1960s and 1970s, particularly through animation. Scholars and practitioners will identify events that represent changes in the depiction of African-Americans in animated productions, and present the ramifications of this groundbreaking legislation on contemporary life.
Dominion also awarded a $150,000 grant to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in support of its research and interpretation of the African-American colonial experience. Colonial Williamsburg received funding to introduce new street theater characters -- actors who bring to life the everyday stories of the men and women who helped build the nation. Visitors to Colonial Williamsburg can meet Edith Cumbo, a free African-American woman who lived, worked, and owned property in James City County. They can learn about her leadership in the community, how she conducted business, and the active role that she and other women played in colonial era Williamsburg and nearby cities. A number of other carefully researched members of the enslaved community will also be brought to life to share their experiences in colonial times.
Other grants in 2014 to support diversity in the communities served by Dominion are being awarded to:
- The Elegba Folklore Society of Richmond
- The Latin Ballet of Virginia
- Festival of India in Glen Allen, Va.
- The Virginia Latino Higher Education Network
For additional information about community initiatives funded by Dominion, visit www.dom.com/about/community/.
The grants are being made through the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources, Inc. (NYSE: D), the parent company of Dominion Virginia Power.
The Dominion Foundation is dedicated to improving the physical, social and economic well-being of the communities served by Dominion companies, including Dominion Virginia Power. Dominion and the Foundation support nonprofit causes that meet basic human needs, protect the environment, support education and promote community vitality. For more information about Dominion, one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, visit www.dom.com.
About James Madison's Montpelier
Montpelier is the lifelong home of James Madison, father of the Constitution, architect of the Bill of Rights, and fourth President of the United States. Montpelier is administered by The Montpelier Foundation, which seeks to inspire continuing public engagement with American constitutional self-government by bringing to life the home and contributions of James and Dolley Madison. The historic home and grounds are open to visitors and student groups throughout the year, and through the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution, Montpelier provides world-class residential and online educational programs. Montpelier is a National Trust Historic Site. To learn more, visit www.montpelier.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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