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Reps. McEachin, Adams introduce African American Burial Grounds Network Act

Donald McEachinIn honor of Black History Month, Reps. A. Donald McEachin and Alma S. Adams introduced the African American Burial Grounds Network Act.

This legislation would create a voluntary national network of historic African-American burial grounds, and would provide information, technical support, and grants to aid in the research, identification, preservation, and restoration of burial sites within the network.

The “African American Burial Grounds Network Act” would provide federal support for historic African-American burial grounds in need of assistance to ensure their preservation for future generations. Historically, the documentation and protection of African-American burial grounds have been shamefully neglected. This legislation aims to address this injustice by providing federal recognition and support for these sacred sites.

For more than two centuries, African-American cemeteries have suffered unjust abuse and neglect,” said Congressman McEachin. “African-American burial grounds are an essential part of our nation’s history and deserve protection. I am proud to co-introduce this legislation, which supports the preservation and restoration of these sacred sites, including Evergreen and East End Cemeteries in my district. Descendants of those interred should be able to visit these sites to honor and remember their family members.”

“Too often, the graves of African Americans have been forgotten or ignored by the communities in which they were located,” said Congresswoman Adams. “This has been a disservice to the memories of those who came before us, and to the preservation of our nation’s history. African American burial grounds are an integral part of our country’s heritage. Creating and maintaining a national network of African American burial grounds will help communities preserve local history while also better informing development decisions and community planning in growing areas like Mecklenburg County.”

Full bill text is available here. Fact sheet is available here.

“We are thrilled that Representative McEachin is building on our work at Evergreen Cemetery in Richmond and other African-American cemeteries in Virginia to protect and restore these sacred spaces across the nation,” said Virginia Outdoors Foundation Executive Director Brett Glymph. “These cemeteries, and the stories they tell, are vital to the people who have ancestors buried in them, to the communities they built, and to our shared history as Americans.”

“Preservation Virginia is grateful to Congressman McEachin for his leadership in recognizing and providing resources to identify and document these important places of memory,” said Preservation Virginia Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Kostelny. “Building a national network of African-American burial grounds and raising awareness of these often forgotten and neglected places will enhance our collective memory and honor those who have made meaningful contributions to our American story.”

“The recognition and protection of African American burial grounds enriches our future, not just our past.  It allows us to honor the contributions of generations of Americans, especially in the South, whose role in building America has helped make us the dynamic and diverse country we are today,” said Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Director of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

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