Historic Black Catholic cemetery holds dedication
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston dedicated a park Monday to the memory of more than 1,000 Black people at a historic cemetery.
The dedication toook place at the St. John Cemetery, located at 283 Coming St. in downtown Charleston.
“For many years, the cemetery has stood empty with almost any sign of its previous use wiped out,” Bishop of Charleston Jacques Fabre-Jeune said. “Many Charleston residents have no idea that this is a historical site for Black Catholics. But we have never forgotten the significance of those buried here.”
Febre-Jeune referred to the dedication taking place on Juneteenth, a day which celebrates the date in 1865 that enslaved people in Texas finally learned that they were free more than two months after Confederate Robert E. Lee surrendered in Virginia and more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
“The black Catholics buried in this place experienced Juneteenth in 1865,” he said. He asked the audience to imagine the stories the departed at the cemetery could tell. “Stories of being both slave and free persons, stories of their jobs, hard labor, enjoy the experiences fighting for equality. All the stories that could be told by those where we hear, we can learn so much from their life stories. Black history is American history. It is also part of the church history.”
Copyright 2023 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.