Historic Preservation

Preserve. Educate. Improve.

Our Mission

To inspire others and guide their journey of discovery through the collection, documentation, and preservation of historic and culturally significant spaces.


Our Vision

The discovery of lost African American cemeteries has opened pathways for communities to contribute to current research on equity and expand the framework on the African American experience through preserving and interpreting African-American cemeteries. This road of reclamation has connected a growing community of friends with amazing stories and shared memories. Our gratitude for these everlasting bonds in immeasurable.


“Periwinkle, Yucca, and Cedars.”

“Look for these when you return, my beloved child, and you will find my resting place.”

Many African American parents echoed these words when their adult children left their Black Belt homes, migrating north in search of better lives. The plantings they mention represent just one of our burial ground traditions; others include intermingling the bodies of different family members (reflecting the importance of community over individual) and placing our burials with the head towards the rising sun in the east.

Learning and honoring those traditions now can provide a powerful form of community healing, a positive and active testament to the fact that despite all adversity, we stand.

Recent discoveries of forgotten or bulldozed African American cemeteries throughout the U.S. have opened these pathways for community discovery. At the Hamilton Hood Foundation, we have personally experienced this as we’ve discovered and begun restoring the historic Pierce Chapel Cemetery, resting place of two of our great-great-grandparents. It’s a dynamic journey that is enriching our lives tremendously.

“I am bound to them, though I cannot look into their eyes or hear their voices. I honor their history. I cherish their lives. I will tell their story. I will remember them.”

– Unknown Author


Reclamation of Cemetery and Community

Knowing where we came from connects us to the reality of who we are now and can help us make the best choices for moving forward. It’s estimated*, for example, that “nearly one out of every three enslaved children died before adulthood.” Connecting the dots, it’s clear that as African Americans, our great-great grandparents likely suffered from life-long malnourishment and trauma. Since that experience is reflected in our DNA, it’s most likely affecting our health and even our emotional well being.

People removing brush

Two examples. Our ancestors’ malnourishment helps explain, in part, the disproportionally serious health challenges experienced by African Americans today. The adversity and ongoing trauma also help explain some of our community’s ongoing socio-economic challenges. Connecting our dots – making sense of how we have come to where we are today – gives us the clarity we need to grow and thrive.

*https://www.sciway.net/hist/chicora/gravematters-1.html

Leadership Council

Friends of Pierce Chapel African American Cemetery

<meta charset="utf-8"><strong>Andrea Cox</strong>
Andrea Cox

Andrea Cox, MHRM (Masters of HR Management) is a leader and mentor in finance, marketing, event planning, and non-profit fundraising within the private sector. She is excited to translate her 20+ years of knowledge of marketing strategy and cultivating relationships for the awareness of preservation of forgotten historical information.

<strong>Patricia Phillips</strong>
Patricia Phillips

Patricia Phillips is a prolific genealogical researcher with additional experience in the government and private sector as an educator, project manager, trainer, and mentor. She also served many years as HOA president, exhibiting proficient management and leadership skills. Her many experiences have nurtured her passion for extensive documentation preservation of those forgotten.


Advisors

Remembrance Project at Pierce Chapel African American Cemetery

  • Amin Aleem, Research, Historical and Genealogical Studies, Morehouse College 
  • John L. Sconiers III, Co-owner, Sconiers Funeral Home
  • Henriette Cain, Chief Genealogist, Sunco Family & Public Records
  • Maurice Sconiers, Co-owner, Sconiers Funeral Home
  • Dr. J Aleem Hud, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, African Studies, University Michigan Ann Arbor
  • Johnny Warner, Founder, Columbus Black History Museum
  • Earl Ijames, Archivist & Curator, Historic Preservation at North Carolina Museum of History 
  • Carlos Williams, Director, Creative Service, WRBL Channel 3 News
  • Stella M. Pierce, Ed.D., Genealogist, Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc.
  • Frank Wilson, Regional Director, The Georgia African American Historic Preservation Network

Community Partners

Pierce Chapel African American Cemetery

Rehobeth Baptist Church

Rev. Charles Graddick

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why do we care about preserving Historic African American Cemeteries?

These historic cemeteries are an important part of the community’s cultural landscape, as they tell the story of Americans who were an integral part of building our community.

What is the legacy of the people buried in this historic cemetery?

We have a responsibility to ensure that the humanity of our ancestors is honored and reflected in a dignified burial ground that is recorded and archived, as their narrative should be a central part of our history.

What are our ancestors telling you?

We can learn a lot from historic cemeteries and burial grounds, as artifacts, markers, headstones, and plants can help us to understand the daily lives of our ancestors, religious beliefs, and customs.

Who can help?

Anyone dedicated to the preservation of historic sites.

Make An Impact

When you give to Hamilton Hood Foundation, your donation is used to support historic preservation, genealogical research, and health education.