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Latest round of Twin Memorials listening sessions and an ‘emerging ideas’ showcase slated for March 27 and 28

Hood Design Studio — the acclaimed firm chosen to create the Twin Memorials honoring enslaved persons who were part of the university’s history — completed a visit coinciding with Emory’s Charter Week and is looking forward to presenting initial ideas on March 27 on the Oxford campus and March 28 on the Atlanta campus.

Walter Hood, the studio’s founder and creative director, is taking every opportunity to verse himself and his associates in university history as well as to understand Emory’s future vision of itself.

Charter Week provided that dual perspective, commemorating the first meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees on Feb. 6, 1837 — two months after Emory College was founded in Oxford, Georgia — and serving as an opportunity to celebrate Emory’s present and future. 

“The story that needs to be told in this place is necessarily different than other places, and our role is to integrate, and build upon, the collective work you have done in order to create something even more powerful,” Hood said. 

“We are endeavoring to tell the story of a people. It should spark in us both sorrow and joy,” he continued.

Brewing a rich mix of voices representing Oxford and Atlanta

Hood Design Studio benefited from 26 listening session with more than 225 descendants of the enslaved, administrators, faculty, students, staff, alumni and community partners conducted in 2022. That input is captured in the engagement report of the Twin Memorials Working Group, which details the potential sites on both campuses as well as possible themes.

During previous visits in fall 2023, the Hood team met with students, descendants, alumni, faculty, staff and community members in Oxford and Covington.

Over the several days of this engagement, Hood and his staff met with scholars, student leaders, alumni and members of the community in order to close out the extensive listening phase in which he and his colleagues have participated. 

Since the announcement of the selection of Hood Design Studio in August 2023, the team has connected with more than 280 descendants, alumni, faculty, staff and students on the Atlanta and Oxford campuses virtually and in-person.

‘Gathering all available resources’ 

In framing the most recent discussions, Anjulet Tucker 00C 09PhD, director of presidential initiatives and institutional projects in the Office of the President, said: “We are putting the puzzle pieces of our history on the table once again, endeavoring to draw in as many people as we can who carry the flames for Emory’s stories.”

“What are the chapters, moments and individuals,” Hood asked, “that the Twin Memorials will need to reference? We want to use all available resources to tell the story.”

As Hood explained to a gathering of Atlanta nonprofit, city and educational leaders on Feb. 6, “Our work, as a studio, is to start with a multitude of ideas and perspectives — your ideas and perspectives.”

Hood walked the group through a presentation of past design work by his studio, then set in motion spirited breakout sessions by asking a series of questions, including: What kinds of twins should these memorials be? How should the line between town and gown be observed? How do you want to tell this story? 

Doug Shipman 95C identified natural linkages to the Twin Memorials project across the city as being the Chattahoochee Brick Company, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, The King CenterEbenezer Baptist Church and the city’s HBCU campuses, among others.

“I am heartened by the kinds of ideas I heard today, the complexity of the way people are thinking about his project,” Shipman commented. “Anytime you are trying to bring history to life, you want to ensure that it is both authentic to the actual story and relevant to the present. Emory’s Twin Memorials will help people embody this story in their own lives.” 

Bridget Piggue 15ThD has expertise in educating and empowering those committed to growth, healing and transformation. As the director of spiritual health at Emory University Hospital Midtown, she well understands the courage it takes to engage the work of the Twin Memorials. 

Finding the discussion “powerful on many levels,” Piggue acknowledged, “It can be difficult to look at what is painful and traumatic.”

But she is also confident about what can be done together.

“This is not easy,” she admitted, “yet the public nature of these memorials will create a bridge that we can cross to help one another toward the shared goal — acknowledging our common humanity.”

Coming soon: a look at emerging ideas 

Hood and his team will return to Oxford’s campus on March 27, where they will set up an “Emerging Ideas Showcase” in the library that will be resident through April 12. On March 28, the same showcase will debut at The Hatchery, Center for Innovation on the Atlanta campus and also close on April 12. Those wishing to attend are asked to register for either Oxford or Atlanta. 

The showcases are, says Hood, “another form of conversation and listening. We want to give the community a chance to marinate in the ideas we will bring around the goals of acknowledgment, remembrance and reconciliation that are at the heart of this project.”

Be a Part of the Emerging Ideas Showcase

March 27, Oxford College Library. Register to attend the Oxford session.

March 28, The Hatchery, Center for Innovation. Register to attend the Atlanta session 

Schedule on both days:

2:00 p.m. — Gather; refreshments will be served 

3:00 p.m. — Remarks 

3:15 p.m. — Tour the exhibition 

4:30 p.m. — Conclude 

QR codes will enable participants to share their feedback. For those not able to be at the opening, the showcases will remain onsite through April 12. 

Photos by Emory Photo/Video.

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