McEachin, Adams, Fitzpatrick introduce African American Burial Grounds Preservation Act
Reps. A. Donald McEachin, Alma Adams and Brian Fitzpatrick introduced the bipartisan African American Burial Grounds Preservation Act.
The bipartisan Senate companion legislation was introduced last week by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Mitt Romney (R-UT).
“Since the inception of our country, the graves of African Americans have suffered unjust abuse and neglect,” said Rep. McEachin (D-VA-04). “These burial sites hold the untold stories of millions of African Americans and the integral role they played in our nation’s trajectory. I am proud to stand alongside Congresswoman Adams and Sen. Brown to introduce the African American Burial Grounds Preservation Act to preserve predominantly Black cemeteries and other resting places. The protection of these burial grounds is long overdue and critical to ensuring a more complete, comprehensive understanding of America’s history.”
The African American Burial Grounds Preservation Act would establish a program at the National Park Service to provide grant opportunities and technical assistance to local partners to research, identify, survey, and preserve these historic sites.
“Graveyards, burial grounds, and cemeteries not only honor our ancestors; they’re also an important resource for historians and genealogists who want to tell our history. However, the burial sites of African Americans are often forgotten or ignored,” said Rep. Adams (NC-12). “This dishonors the memories of those who came before us and obscures our nation’s history. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the ‘African American Burial Grounds Preservation Act.’ with Senator Brown and Representative McEachin. This legislation will provide federal support for historic African American burial grounds to ensure their preservation. I can’t think of a better time than Black History Month to take an affirmative step to preserve our history for generations to come.”
“As a nation, we have not invested the necessary resources to preserve these hallowed grounds. That’s why we’ve worked with the community, and with civil rights, veterans, and historic preservation groups to introduce bipartisan legislation to preserve historic Black burial grounds around the country,” said Sen. Brown (D-OH). “Cemeteries like Union Baptist are important historical sites, and they’re tools for education and understanding the American story. We need to act now before these sites are lost to the ravages of time or development.”
Last Congress, Reps. McEachin and Adams introduced the African American Burial Grounds Network Act to create a voluntary national network of historic African-American burial grounds. Today’s legislation will take more immediate steps, establish a competitive grant program, and aid localities in acquiring the funding necessary to preserve these burial sites.
Read the African American Burial Ground Preservation Act bill text here.