Historic cemetery markers of the Tubman family members at Malone's Church, Madison, MD. Photo by Preservation Maryland.

Preservation Maryland Signs-On in Support of African American Burial Ground Legislation

03/10/2021
By Preservation Maryland

Preservation Maryland is proud to have signed on in support of federal legislation that will create a funded study program to preserve African American cemeteries across the country – sacred places that deserve reverence and protection.

LETTER OF SUPPORT

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we urge Senate consideration of the African American Burial Grounds Study Act, introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (OH) and Tim Scott (SC).

This bipartisan legislation directs the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct a study on ways to identify, interpret, preserve, and record historic African American burial grounds. The Secretary of the Interior would examine:

The bill authorizes $2.5 million over 3 years to carry out the study.

Cemeteries are places of tribute and memory, connecting families and communities with their past. Unfortunately, many African-American burial grounds from both before and after the Civil War are in a state of disarray and are often inaccessible.

Beginning with slavery and continuing through the Jim Crow era, African-Americans were restricted in where they could bury their dead. Local laws segregated burial grounds by race. These sites were often confined to remote areas or marginal property, and they frequently were not provided the same sort of state or local support or assistance as predominantly White cemeteries. As a result, many jurisdictions are unaware of the existence of these historic sites. Even when their location is known, the task of restoring, preserving, and maintaining these burial grounds can be expensive, difficult, and require technical expertise.

Our organizations have witnessed first-hand the need for federal action to protect and preserve these important historic and cultural landmarks. Preserving and protecting these sacred sites, and the stories they tell, is an integral part of our American heritage. We urge immediate Senate action on this legislation.

Preservation Maryland expects this legislation to be introduced in early March and will update our members with important information.

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Preservation Maryland is Maryland’s first and largest organization dedicated to preserving the state’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes, and archaeological sites.

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