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The African American Burial Grounds Network Act
Cemeteries and burial sites are places of tribute and memory, connecting communities with their past. Unfortunately, many African-American burial grounds from both before and after the Civil War are in a state of disrepair or inaccessibility due to overgrowth of vegetation, crumbling structures, and other challenges.
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.
The Adams-McEachin African American Burial Grounds Network Act creates a voluntary national network of historic African-American burial grounds. This legislation also establishes a National Park Service program, in coordination with state, local, private, and non-profit groups, to educate the public and provide technical assistance for community members and public and private organizations to research, survey, identify, record, and preserve burial sites and cemeteries within the Network.
If you would like more information about the African American Burial Grounds Network Act or if your boss would like to be added as a cosponsor, please contact Katherine Stewart (Katherine.Stewart@mail.house.gov) with Rep. Adams or Blair Wriston (Blair.Wriston@mail.house.gov) with Rep. McEachin.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Coalition for American Heritage, American Anthropological Association, Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Association of Black Anthropologists, Preservation of African American Cemeteries Incorporated, American Cultural Resources Association, Preservation North Carolina, Preservation Virginia, Enrichmond Foundation, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Society for American Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology, Preservation Maryland, Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology, Save Our Heritage Organization, Illinois Archaeological Survey, the United States Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the Wake Forest Historical Museum, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, Virginia Humanities, the Black Genealogy Research Group of Oklahoma, River Road African American Museum, River Road African Burial Grounds Coalition, the Louisiana Ancestors Burial Ground and Cemetery Preservation Commission, the Shadow Lawn Memorial Gardens Maintenance & Perpetual Care Association, and Preserve Arkansas.