Ana Edwards

Ana Edwards, M.A.

Assistant Professor

Course Coordinator, CSIJ 200


  • Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond VA, Master of Arts in History, Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Public History, 2020
  • Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, New Brunswick NJ, Graduate studies in painting and drawing, 1984-1986
  • California State Polytechnic University at Pomona CA, Bachelor of Arts, Visual Arts, 1983


Ana Edwards is a public historian with research interests in the history and significance of “Gabriel's Rebellion,” 18th century Black life in Virginia, how both informed the construction of the American nation, how these histories are articulated in public landscapes and why they resonate today. As founding chair of the Defenders’ Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project (2004), and in collaboration with other community organizations, she contributed to the reclamation of Richmond's first municipal African Burial Ground and leads the in-progress community campaign to establish a Memorial Park in Shockoe Bottom, the 19th century epicenter of the US domestic slave trade and birth district of the city of Richmond--a project now part of the city’s strategic development plan. Her advocacy work includes education, social justice and historic preservation advocacy for African American spaces, especially pre and post emancipation burial places--among them VCU East Marshall Street Well Project, Shockoe Bottom and Shockoe Hill African, East End and Evergreen cemeteries. In 2019, the Sacred Ground Project convened 22 scholars to present at "Truth and Conciliation in the 400th Year: a Shockoe Bottom Public History Symposium" at the Library of Virginia. Edwards was the recipient of the inaugural VCU History Department Alumni Achievement Award in 2021 for her contributions to public history and advocacy for social justice and the 2022 Engage for Change Community Educator Award from the University of Richmond's Bonner Center for Civic Engagement. 

Select Publications

  • Edwards, Ana and Matthew R. Laird. “Digging Truth: Archaeology and Public Imagination in Shockoe Bottom.” ch. 3, Advocacy and Archaeology: Urban Intersections. Editors: Diane F. George, Kelly M. Britt, PhD. United Kingdom: Berghahn Books, 2023.
  • "Robert Cowley: Living Free During Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Richmond, Virginia." Thesis. Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of History, 2020. Committee: Nicole Myers Turner, Ryan K. Smith and Michael L. Blakey.
  • “Shockoe Bottom: Changing the Public History Landscape of Richmond, Virginia.” chapter. Bending the Future: Fifty Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation. Page, Max and Miller, Marla R. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. 2016.
  • “The Significance of Shockoe Bottom.” Ana Edwards, Phil Wilayto with contributors: editor Kelley F. Deetz PhD and Ellen Chapman, PhD. “Historic Black Lives Matter: Archaeology as Activism in the 21st Century," African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter: Vol. 15: Iss. 1, Article 1. 2015.


  • Introduction to Race and Racism in the United States. Critical Social Inquiry and Justice Studies (CSIJ) 200. 3 hours.


  • 2022 Engage for Change Community Educator Award from the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, University of Richmond
  • 2021 Inaugural Alumni Achievement Award from the Department of History, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 2019 James Tice Moore Award recipient for best graduate essay, “Wilton House Public History Project: The Manumission of Robert Cowley”
  • 2019 Recipient: Black History In The Making presented by the Department of
  • African American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University. Nominated by Prof. Nicole Myers Turner, historian