The Institute's Public Outreach Mission

As a major research institute, the Woodson prioritizes public outreach through events, grant-funded projects, and workshops with K-12 teachers. Our mission emphasizes the importance of sharing knowledge and advancing black studies scholarship in the spirit of our namesake Carter G. Woodson. As such, public engagement has been at the heart of the Institute since its inception. The following projects have been launched at the Woodson Institute: 

Event series and symposia: Throughout its 40 year history, the Woodson Institute has organized a wide range of lecture series and symposia that share black studies scholarship with the general public. Our full event archive includes the Currents in Conversation Series, the African Studies Colloquium Series, and the Conversations in Caribbean Studies Series. In conjunction with the major symposia organized under the auspices of the Institute, our events have addressed the following topics: mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex; the question of reparations; race and taxes; citizenship and democracy; black feminist history; black girlhood studies; the Charleston Masscre; public schools and higher education; racism and immigration; pop culture, music studies, and digital blackness.

Africa Day: Organized by Swahili Professor Anne Rotich, Africa Day is designed to increase awareness and knowledge of Africa and its cultures among high school students through presentations on African cultures, languages, historical, social and political knowledge of Africa. The event typically brings attendance numbers of between 100-200 students and teachers from Albemarle High School, Charlottesville High School, Monticello High School and Western Albemarle High School. 

The Julian Bond Papers Project: a digital editorial project in collaboration with UVA's Center for Digital Editing that is working to make Bond's speeches publicly available on a digital archive and three-volume print series. 

Repair Lab, UVA Democracy Initiative: Spearheaded by Woodson faculty members Andrew Kahrl and Kimberly Fields, the Repair Lab focuses on repairing issues of racial injustice and climate change through collaborative solutions informed by historical, political, environmental, and local knowledge. The Repair Lab will bring together this expertise, and, in so doing, produce novel research, teaching, and public programming that deepens our understanding of the causes, consequences, and countermeasures of environmental and climate injustice locally and around the world. 

K-12 Teacher's Institute: This collaborative effort between the Woodson Institute, the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD), and the Center for Liberal Arts (CLA), provides cutting-edge, accessible African and African Diaspora scholarship to K-12 educators. Through engaging and informative discussions, practical suggestions for curricular implementation, and resource guides, the Institute, which took place in October 2021 and is scheduled to continue in ensuing summers, helps K-12 educators to accurately and effectively teach their students the rich histories and cultures of African and African-descended peoples. 

Holsinger Portraits Project: In the early 1990s, the Woodson Institute first exhibited the portraits from the Rufus W. Holsinger Collection of black Charlottesville residents during the Jim Crow era. The collection, housed in UVA's Special Collections Library, has hundreds of portraits of black Virginians taken by photographer Rufus W. Holsinger between the year 1912 and the start of World War I. History Professor and Woodson Faculty affiliate John Edwin Mason revived the effort in 2014 to collect and display these portraits for the general public. The project is supported by the Jefferson Trust and in collaboration with The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, and the University’s Corcoran Department of History. For more information, follow the project on social media. 

"Notes on the State" podcast and oral history: A project created for the University's Bicentennial focused on themes in Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia. The Notes on the State team collected over 14 interviews with scholars at UVA and across the nation on various topics including: Jefferson’s role as an enslaver, his diplomatic record on Haitian Independence, and writing on racial difference. A full interview archive can be found on the project website. 

The Citizen Justice Initiative: a summer internship program exposed high school students and university undergraduates to academic research, public history, and African American Studies. In four consecutive summers, the CJI supported over 30 undergraduates and high school students who gained experience working on digital storytelling projects and completing archival research. The project collaborated with the Center for Digital Editing, Virginia Humanities, and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. The Citizen Justice Team also published the multi-media essay: The Illusion of Progress: Charlottesville's Roots in White Supremacy in August 2017, which has gone on to be used in K-12 and University classrooms alike. 

The Race & Place archive: created by the Woodson's second Director Reginald Butler and Scot French, the Race & Place archive has been a fixture of black studies scholarship at UVA since it was released in 2002. The site focuses on the racial segregation laws, or the 'Jim Crow' laws from the late 1880s until the mid-twentieth century in Charlottesville, VA. At the forefront of digital humanities scholarship, the Race & Place archive features oral histories, maps, newspaper transcriptions, digital exhibitions, city documents, and other images of black life in Charlottesville.