cemeteries

Lane Street Project: recommended reading.

I’m not an archaeologist or an anthropologist or a preservationist, and I’ve studied history, but only recently begun to engage in public history. Thus, I need to get my game up as Lane Street Project moves from dreamy rumination to real work.

I’m reading Lynn Rainville’s Hidden History: African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia to start. Though the landscape, material culture, and history of the Charlottesville area are quite different than those of Wilson County, Rainville’s work illustrates best practices for assessing, cataloguing, and preserving historic Black cemeteries, and I’m both taking notes and brainstorming as I read.

“Gravestones can teach us lessons in American civics as told through portraits of individuals and their communities, depicted in the details found on their headstones. The storylines in these mortuary museums illustrate national values: the worth of the individual, the primacy of the family, the depth of religious beliefs, the importance of patriotism. … They can also demonstrate some of the darker aspects of our shared past, the legacies of slavery and segregation. Cemeteries are instructional spaces that, if read correctly, have much to teach us about our social and moral values and about our shared history.”

In Plain Sight.

Adam Rosenblatt of Friends of Geer Cemetery traveled to Wilson this past Saturday to help Lane Street Project in its first public cemetery clean-up. We appreciate both his physical labor and the opportunity to form alliances and learn from F.O.G.C. as we chart a path for our cemeteries. 

Please join Friends of Geer Cemetery on 23 January 2021 for the virtual grand opening of its outdoor exhibit, In Plain Sight: Reflections Past & Actions Present in Durham’s Geer Cemetery. Eventbrite link here.

In Plain Sight: Reflections Past & Actions Present in Durham’s Geer Cemetery

The Friends of Geer Cemetery are proud to introduce In Plain Sight — an outdoor educational exhibit in Durham’s historic African American burial ground — through this Virtual Grand Opening. For far too long, the graves of this city’s African American founders have been hidden from view, their stories underappreciated. Join us to learn more about their lives and ongoing efforts to ensure respect for their memory.

In Plain Sight is a journey through the history of Durham and the cemetery itself, the result of a collaborative effort with local students, scholars, volunteers, and descendants of those laid to rest here. In this Virtual Grand Opening, you will learn about both the space and this project, hear from the Friends of Geer Cemetery about their advocacy work, and be prepared for a visit to the outdoor exhibit — on your own any time through Sunday, March 7th, or with safely distanced guided tours (visit DurhamInPlainSight.com for details).

The Virtual Grand Opening will be followed by an open Q&A session.

In Plain Sight is made possible in part by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and through generous matching donations from more than 70 supporters.