African American Burial Ground Network Act Introduced in Congress

02/28/2019
By Preservation Maryland

Preservation Maryland commends Representatives Alma S. Adams (NC-12) and A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) for introducing the African American Burial Grounds Network Act and urges swift passage of the bill to chronicle and preserve African American burial grounds for future generations.

There is no official national record or database for African American burial ground locations, and the location of many sites is unknown. As a result, the family members and descendants of those interred there are unable to visit these sites to honor and remember their ancestors. Too often, abandoned burial grounds and cemeteries are discovered when construction projects inadvertently disturb human remains, slowing or halting completion of those projects and creating distress and heartache within the local community.

The presence and location of historic African American burial grounds should be chronicled, and there should be coordinated national, state, and local efforts to preserve and restore these sites for future generations. African American burial grounds are an integral component of the heritage of the United States. Creating and maintaining a network of African-American burial grounds will help communities preserve local history while better informing development decisions and community planning.

Our Cemetery Work: In 2017, Preservation Maryland initiated a statewide project to prioritize the preservation of historic cemeteries across Maryland through documentation and legislation. We have worked with the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites to help pass statewide and country cemeteries protection legislation. The initiative has also resulted in a new partnership with the State Highway Administration to identify and map 100 cemeteries across the state. Learn more about our cemetery work.

Preservation Maryland is proud to have signed on in support of the important legislation with our colleagues and these organizations across the country: The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Coalition for American Heritage, Society for American Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology, American Anthropological Association, Association of Black Anthropologists, the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society Inc., Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Preservation of African American Cemeteries Inc., American Cultural Resources Association, United States Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, Save Our Heritage Organization, Preservation North Carolina, Preservation Virginia, Enrichmond Foundation, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Preservation Maryland, Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology, Illinois Archaeological Survey, the Wake Forest Historical Museum, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, Virginia Humanities, the Council of Virginia Archaeologists, Black Genealogy Research Group of Oklahoma, River Road African American Museum, River Road African Burial Grounds Coalition, Shadow Lawn Memorial Gardens Maintenance & Perpetual Care Association, Preserve Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas African American Heritage Association, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

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