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Black History Month topic: ‘Search for African-American Cemeteries’

A Black History Month program will be held Saturday, February 8, at 11 a.m. at the Historic Middlesex County Courthouse on General Puller Highway in Saluda.

William and Mary anthropologist Michael Blakey will talk about his “Remembering Slavery, Resistance and Freedom Project” (the Remembering Project) and its search for historic African-American cemeteries throughout Virginia.

David Brown, archeologist and co-director of the Gloucester-based Fairfield Foundation, will describe the cemetery component of the foundation’s work in the Middle Peninsula.

The Remembering Project was established to engage the community of African descendants throughout Virginia to develop memorial programs for the Civil War Sesquicentennial that honor the rich and complex lives, histories, contributions, innovations, and sacrifices of enslaved Africans and African-Americans.

One of the primary ways the project is memorializing the contributions of individuals of African descendants in Virginia is by identifying the cemeteries of the people who were enslaved. The project recognizes the deep significance of burials in remembering the contributions Africans and African-Americans to Virginia and the nation as a whole.

The Remembering Project is developing a database of known cemetery sites.

“Do plan to attend this program to learn more about this exciting project and to make sure that your family and community cemeteries are included in the database,” said a Middlesex County Museum spokesperson.

Dr. Michael Blakey is the director of the Institute for Historical Biology at the College of William and Mary. He is a physical anthropologist known for analysis and interpretation of the important evidence uncovered at the 1991 African Burial Ground in Manhattan. Dr. Blakey set the precedent and is world renowned for his scholarly work on this project. In 2012, he was recognized for his contributions as one of the Library of Virginia African-American Trailblazers.

The February 8 program is free to the public and is co-sponsored by the Middlesex Museum and Historical Society and the Middle Peninsula African-American Genealogical and Historical Society. For more information, call 804-758-5163.

posted 01.15.2014

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