Preserve African American Burial Grounds

Preserve African American Burial Grounds

As our nation grapples with its history of systemic racism, SHA members are urged to advocate for the preservation of historic African American burial grounds. These cemeteries are sacred places. Unfortunately, they are also emblematic of the unequal treatment African Americans endured, both in life and death.

Many African American burial grounds suffered from decades of official neglect and government policies that ignored and devalued their very existence. In many states, local governments provided funds for the maintenance of Confederate cemeteries but did nothing to fund upkeep for African American burial grounds.

Historic cemeteries provide descendent communities with important links to their past and serve as valuable resources for bringing to light individual family histories. In addition, identifying, preserving and restoring African American burial grounds is critical to telling the full American story. These historic burial grounds are touchstones to a past that is rarely recorded in historical records.  

Development, disuse and neglect threaten to erase many African American burial grounds. Email your Members of Congress today! Ask them to cosponsor the African American Burial Grounds Network Act (called HR 1179 in the House and S 2827 in the Senate), a bill to chronicle and preserve African American burial grounds for future generations. This important legislation will:

  • Create a voluntary national network of historic African American burial grounds.
  • Establish a program to educate the public about these important sites.
  • Provide community members and local organizations with technical assistance to research and preserve burial sites and cemeteries within the Network.

Please email immediately to voice your support for HR 1179/S 2827!

Guidelines for Writing a Great Email to Congress:

  1. Include your home address so that the Member of Congress knows you are a constituent.
  2. Share some information about yourself and why historic preservation matters to you. For example, say that you are an archaeologist, a historic preservation professional, work at a cultural resources management firm or museum or historic site, and are active in supporting your community.
  3. Use this key line: “Please sign on as a cosponsor of HR 1179/ S 2827, The African American Burial Grounds Network Act.

See also: Abandoned Burial Grounds