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A Statement from Westmoreland County Museum

The Westmoreland County Museum board acknowledge the tragic deaths and injustices against the country’s people of color that led from peaceful protests to the riots and violence of the last few weeks. We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives, serious injuries, and destruction that ensued. We are also proud of the peaceful gatherings of support that have been held here, and hopeful for the nationwide return to peaceful demonstrations demanding change and dialog to bring about meaningful nationwide reform.

While the Museum is committed to preserving the historical facts of our county knowing there is much to celebrate, it also recognizes the painful history and consequences of enslavement. The board stands with the rights of equal treatment and opportunity of all people, extends its support for meaningful changes that will lead to healing the hearts and minds of all, and honors the important and strong African-American commitment and contributions made towards the development and growth of Westmoreland County. Preserving the history of the county and its people encompasses Europeans who came and developed large plantations, initially bringing in African men as indentured servants who could earn their status as free people. Later they enslaved African men, women and children who could not earn their freedom. Our county, however, had citizens who acted to help end slavery well before the Civil War ended its practice in 1865. Two examples are Robert Carter III of Nomini Hall, who began the process of freeing those enslaved on his several holdings in 1791, and Elizabeth Ransdell Steptoe who did so in her 1802 Will for those enslaved in her household. For such people who understood some 200 years ago that black lives matter we can be grateful.

We recognize the contributions of both the enslaved and free black communities that existed in our county before the Civil War, and of the entire black community since that war’s end who have contributed to every aspect of life. We are committed to more actively bringing to light these individuals and their accomplishments.

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