Remembering Vinegar Hill

Vinegar Hill HouseOn March 7, 2003, The Project on Lived Theology held the fifth session of The City and Congregation Workgroup, part of an ongoing effort to build a theological narrative of the city of Charlottesville. The theme for the day was, “Theology and History: Remembering Redemptively,” and speakers included local pastor and civil rights activist, Dr. R. A. Johnson, as well as workgroup member, now Board of Regents Chair in Ethics and Assistant Professor of Religion at Wartburg College, Jennifer McBride. The afternoon session, lead by Renae Shackelford and Robert Saunders, focused on the challenging history and legacy of the city’s razing of the Vinegar Hill district, an African-American neighborhood and economic center, under the auspices of urban renewal in the 1960s. Their talk, entitled, “Urban Renewal and the End of Black Culture in Charlottesville, Virginia,” was followed by a public meeting at Trinity Episcopal Church that drew almost 200 community members.

The forced displacement of the Vinegar Hill community and the subsequent breaking of cultural, social, and familial ties, along with the destruction of African-American businesses and economic life, with little to no black involvement or representation, continues to call the city of Charlottesville to prophetically remember this troubling past in order to be ever aware of the dangers of re-living the legacy of this act in the present day. This week, we are featuring the talk from this public meeting, “Remembering Vinegar Hill and its Troubling Legacy”; one of the many interesting and challenging pieces that can be found throughout our new website and in our archive.

See the public talks from Shackelford and Saunders:

More information on the other sessions of this workgroup can be found here.