National Institute on Aging

University of Virginia Honors a Former Slave

The University of Virginia recently installed a plaque in front of the University Chapel which honors Henry Martin.

Martin was born a slave in 1826. He was a free man when hired by the university in 1847 as a janitor and to ring the bell in the university’s Rotunda. He rang the bell at dawn and every hour for the remainder of the day. After a fire in the Rotunda, the bell was moved to the University chapel. All told, Martin was the university’s bell ringer from 1847 to 1909, a period of 62 years.

The plaque was sponsored by the IDEA Fund, a group founded to promoted diversity on campus. IDEA stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access.


Comments (2)

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  1. deltadawn says:

    Nice. But I think the headline should highlight his role as ‘bell ringer’ for the university not former status. He is not being honored because of he was a former slave but because he rang the damn bell for 62 years—my opinion of course.

  2. Gwendolyn Henderson, Ed.S. says:

    Kudos to the university for recognizing Mr. Martin!

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