StAB Students Receive Praise for Vinegar Hill Petition

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- The Issues of Race and Gender class at St. Anne's-Belfield School started a petition to fight for one of Charlottesville historic communities.

Students want the Charlottesville City Council to have the current Vinegar Hill marker replaced with a two-by-three foot sign depicting the history of the neighborhood.

On Monday night, the petition finally made its way to the council, where the group received a standing ovation.

"It's really exciting," said senior Christopher Woodfolk. "Really exciting, and it was kind of like our plan in action. Everything we've worked on for the last couple of months, I was able to portray to the council members, which was really nice."

The petition gained more than 500 signatures in five days.

"To see how passionate they are about it, to see them understand why this is an issue that is important, the way for them to really to grapple with how to we remember our past," said St. Anne's Belfield teacher Jon Shoup.

It's a past that was dear to many. Vinegar Hill was once a thriving black neighborhood in Charlottesville, but in the 1960s, the urban renewal project forced many families out of their homes, and the booming black businesses were gone.

For one student, this petition became personal.

"My Nana lived in Vinegar Hill," said John Woodson, senior at St. Anne's Belfield. "So it was kind of fun after learning about it in class taking it back home and hearing her perspective on it and picking her brain on what happened."

The plaque says that Vinegar Hill is a forgotten neighborhood, but some disagree. One woman who lived there says the memory is very much alive.

"This little plaque or this little 12-inch thing they got, is something you can hold in your hand," said Charlottesville resident Mary Carey. "You don't hold Vinegar Hill in your hand, you hold it in your heart."

Carey grew up during the Vinegar Hill days. She says she commends the students for fighting for what they believe in, especially considering their age.

However, this dynamic group of teens proves you're never too young or too old to stand up for what's right .

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