City Cafe

Freedom and Slavery: Monticello’s Tangled Legacy

Original manuscript from The Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Credit Massachusetts Historical Society
Audio version of this story here.

  An exhibit  that looks at life at Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello, through the eyes of the more than 600 enslaved people who lived there and their descendants, closes this week at the Atlanta History Center.

“Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: How the Word is Passed Down” appeared at the Smithsonian in D.C. before coming to Atlanta. We paid a visit to the Atlanta History Center to talk with two of the people instrumental in its design: Elizabeth Chew, curator at Monticello in Virginia, and Rex Ellis, Associate Director with the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

The first part of our conversation explores Thomas Jefferson’s difficult twinned legacy—of slavery, and of freedom.


Freedom and Slavery at Monticello, Part 1


In part two, we hear some of the voices of Jefferson’s descendants who are featured in the exhibit.

Freedom and Slavery at Monticello, Part 2