The Athens Coalition for Recognition and Redress held its first community event regarding the remains uncovered during an expansion project at Baldwin Hall on the University of Georgia campus in 2015. Local activist groups such as Athens for Everyone and United Campus Workers of Georgia comprise the coalition.
This town hall follows a letter delivered to UGA President Jere Morehead on April 10. In the letter, community activists and Athens-Clarke County politicians demanded UGA officially acknowledge its history in regard to slavery, guarantee reparational scholarships and create a $15 per hour minimum wage for all UGA employees.
More than 40 Athens residents gathered at Thomas N. Lay Park and Community Center to discuss community engagement and action.
Athens for Everyone member Imani Scott-Blackwell said the coalition hopes to provide future opportunities like the town hall for community members to get involved.
“This is like the first of many steps planning for the long-term fight,” Scott-Blackwell said. “It’s a series of escalating and continuing to apply pressure on the university.”
Some people have been involved in this controversy since it began. Chris Xavier, a junior history major from California, said the issue has been important to her since she came to UGA in 2015.
Xavier began creating artwork for the documentary “Below Baldwin” within the last year. Xavier said she did not know how to connect with the movement until then.
“A lot of people have different skills and they don’t know what their skillset can add to a movement like this,” Xavier said. “This [town hall] is a really neat space to see that anybody is helpful to the movement.”
The town hall and the letter delivery are just a few of some recent events regarding UGA’s handling of the Baldwin Hall remains. On March 31, “Below Baldwin” premiered at Morton Theatre. On April 24, the Franklin College Faculty Senate accepted a report alleging UGA intimidated faculty who spoke out in regard to the handling of the Baldwin Hall remains.
Coalition leaders said they want to gain community input on how to address the issue.
“This is a long-term fight,” said Joe Lavine, the director of the “Below Baldwin” documentary. “Nothing is going to be accomplished with just one action, but we do want to take advantage of the momentum that we have built up over the last few months.”
The Coalition will march from Tate Student Center to the UGA Administration Building on April 29 around 1 p.m.