James Madison's Montpelier We The People Spring 2017 Montpelier_WTP_Spring2017_FINAL-1-web - Page 2

EMBRACING OUR ROLE AS A CULTURAL INSTITUTION Buildings tell stories. Voices bring stories to life. For years, the team at James Madison’s Montpelier has been on a journey. It was a mostly unlit path, one where archaeologists, historians, genealogists, and descendants were called upon to illuminate the past. Along the way, we gained a new understanding of what the past represents in this place that represents our country’s common past so fundamentally. The effort to illuminate the human struggle for freedom inside of the confines of the institution of slavery stretches far beyond finding the facts, such as they are, represented in scant documentary evidence. Instead, it represents a critical part of uncovering the fabric of who we are, as Americans, today. With great anticipation, The Montpelier Foundation is proud to reveal the culmination of this journey, The Mere Distinction of Colour, on June 5. The faces and voices of the Montpelier Descendants Community you will see and hear throughout the exhibition make clear the connection between the past and today. In the words of our own Elizabeth Chew, it is an experience “still raw and provoking anger and shame, with relevance and consequences in the present.” David Rubenstein, whose investment in Montpelier has funded the historic reconstruction of the South Yard in addition to the exhibition and its research, cites slavery as the tragic flaw in our Constitution. His investment has helped to encounter that flaw in an unprecedented way, and perhaps to carry the journey forward in a way that acknowledges the true price of our freedom. In this sense, Montpelier is rediscovering its role as a cultural institution with the U.S. Constitution at the center of its identity. Combined with our definitive work on constitutional training, the home of the Father of the Constitution grows more relevant every day. We truly hope to become a beacon for anyone who believes in expanding rights and freedoms to all people. Thank you, Kat Imhoff President and Chief Executive Officer, The Montpelier Foundation