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Call My Name

A woman gestures while speaking to another woman, both seated at a wooden table.

Scholar advocates for unflinching look at slavery’s legacy

Rhondda R. Thomas got goose bumps as she looked down at the threshold of the dining room door at the Reynolds Homestead. Worn down by the steps of the enslaved people who made countless trips back and forth through the doorway as they served the Reynolds family at Rock Spring Plantation, Thomas said the inconspicuous spot was one of the many places that the stories of the enslaved should be more fully incorporated into tours of the historic 1843 home.

“The lives of the enslaved are imprinted on this house,” she said.

Thomas, the Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature at Clemson University, leads Call My Name, a research project dedicated to telling the stories of Black men, women, and children throughout Clemson’s history.

She and members of her team visited the Reynolds Homestead in early March 2024. They toured the historic home, visited the cemetery of the enslaved and their descendants, and walked down to the spring for which the plantation was named. The team then met with Patrick County community members before traveling to Blacksburg for a public lecture and tours of the Solitude and Fraction Family houses.

She commended Virginia Tech for its work so far in telling the full story of its historic spaces and offered continued support as efforts continue. 

--Diane Deffenbaugh