Charleston City, partners start African American Cemetery Restoration Project
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - For decades, the tombs of two freed slaves and Civil War Union Soldiers laid forgotten, cloaked by thick woods next to a busy Lowcountry highway.
Morris Street Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Leonard Griffin walked aside those tombstones belonging to Corporal Samuel Ferguson and Private Pompey Grant for the first time Saturday morning.
“The stories, heroism, contributions and biographical information of those formerly enslaved patriots will be brought it to the light of the word,” Griffin said.
Those graves are the first of many more in African American cemeteries around the Lowcountry soon to be uncovered, restored and protected for generations to come.
“To right a wrong, to create a beautiful historic place in a forgotten in woodland is an incredible opportunity,” Dr. David Goltra with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said.
The City of Charleston is partnering with the Gullah Society, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other historically African American churches to restore cemeteries across the city.
“I am really honored that we have been able to uncover this grave site,” Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said. “Thank you to the Gullah Society and the other partners who recognize the importance of honoring our ancestors and the stories that come with those sites.”
Tecklenburg said he wants people to help support the new Cemeteries Restoration Fund, which will be maintained by The Gullah Society.
He says it will cost around $100,000 as a starting goal to clean up dozens of cemeteries.
Mount Zion AME Church Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Kylon Middleton said the project will be a healing one for many of African descent in Charleston.
“You can go from tombstone to tombstone and you can begin uncovering the history of those who lived in Charleston,” Middleton said. “The stories of individuals who contributed to the tapestry of the unity that becomes our community.”
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