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Who Was York?

August 11, 2007

“On our campus there is not yet a tangible representation or acknowledgment of York as an integral participant in the Corps of Discovery and an individual critical to its survival and success. I have heeded the call of our students and have committed the College to establishing a permanent memorial on campus.” Tom Hochstettler, president

The York Project began with one student, Charles Neal J.D. ‘07, and a question. Where was York, William Clark’s slave, represented on the campus of Lewis & Clark College? In fact, he wasn’t.

Neal committed himself to changing that, and the York Project was born from his vision. “I thought about the indignity York felt,” says Neal, “and I had to do everything possible to move the project forward.”

Neal–along with fellow third-year law students Eric Hevenor, Sara Bagheri, and Matthew Abosedra–approached President Hochstettler, who immediately embraced the idea of recognizing York. He approved the formation of a project team and charged it with the task of building a memorial on campus. The College also plans to establish a center, named for York, which will be dedicated to the study of public memory.

The York Project began with one student and a question and has become much more. What Neal and the rest of the project team discovered is the importance of reaching back into history and righting a historical wrong.

To the question “Where is York?” the answer will soon be “here.”

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