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America's invisible history the focus of Saturday celebration at Montpelier

The public is invited to a special “We the People: a Summer Celebration” Saturday at James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange County, the historic site announced Monday.

From 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the free, family-friendly event will launch a multi-year memorialization project to honor American history and the people once enslaved on the Madison plantation.

Renowned historians, community leaders and artists will host panel discussions, a libation ceremony and experiential arts, archeological and cultural activities and exhibits.

“Montpelier is a place where everyone can come and see their history on display,” said foundation board chair Hasan Kwame Jeffries, a nationally renowned historian, and the Rev. Larry Walker Sr., president of the Montpelier Descendants Committee.

“At a time when America is divided, our historic partnership will recognize President James Madison, ‘Father of the U.S. Constitution,’ and our other Founding Fathers — known and invisible — to create a more perfect union grounded in legacy and equity,” Jeffries and Walker said in a joint statement. “Our celebration will educate and engage people of all ages and backgrounds.”

The event will feature Dr. Michael Blakey, the National Endowment for the Humanities professor of anthropology and American studies at the College of William & Mary; Dr. Michael Higginbotham, dean of the University of Baltimore Law School; Dr. Jeffries, associate professor of history at The Ohio State University; the Rev. Walker, deputy pastor of Celebration Church in Columbia, Maryland, and executive director of Maryland Gov. Wes Moore’s Office of Community Initiatives; Elon Cook Lee, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s director of interpretation and education; Dr. Bettye Kearse, author of “The Other Madisons;” former Washington Mayor Sharon Pratt; Dr. Gregory Dolin, an associate professor of law at the University of Baltimore; Darrell Rose, a percussionist, painter and artist in residence with the Virginia Commission for the Arts; Dr. Iris Ford, the associate professor emerita of anthropology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland; Omar Eaton-Martinez, the National Trust’s senior vice president for historic sites; and poet L. Renée, assistant director of James Madison University’s Furious Flower Poetry Center.

Lifelong home of fourth U.S. President James Madison, father of the Constitution and architect of the Bill of Rights, Montpelier is a monument to Madison and the enslaved community, a museum of American history and a center for constitutional education. It engages the public with Madison’s most powerful idea: government by the people.

The Madison family’s historic home and 2,650-acre estate are open to visitors and student groups throughout the year. The site’s Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution offers world-class residential and online educational programs.

Montpelier is administered by The Montpelier Foundation, a responsibility shared by the Montpelier Descendants Committee, the nation’s first independent, descendant-led group to establish itself as an equal co-steward of a major U.S. historic site.

The MDC works to restore the narratives of enslaved Americans at Central Virginia plantation sites, from the margins to the center of historical discourse. The committee said it promotes a more accurate understanding of these people’s lives based on broader, richer and more truthful interpretations of history.

Through public programs, events and research, the MDC seeks to demonstrate how enslaved persons’ lives “made possible and informed the ideals of universal liberty enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, yet denied to them,” the foundation said in a statement. To learn more, visit

James Madison’s Montpelier, a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is located at 11350 Constitution Highway in Montpelier Station, VA, 22957. Learn more at, #jmmontpelier on X/Twitter and @jmmontpelier on Instagram.


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