Historic Preservation Projects

Preserve. Educate. Improve.

“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.

Although many of our customs have been largely forgotten today, ours is a culture with rich traditions. Most are a blend of our history: our African roots, our condition as enslaved Americans, and the adversity we’ve faced as free people. 

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.

Reclamation of Cemetery and Community 

People removing brushAs we proceed today, we are creating a model with the hope of empowering others to come together, make their own discoveries, and honor their past. This reclamation of ancestral history can help our communities heal some of the challenges that naturally come when we don’t understand or acknowledge our past. Gaining clarity can heal wounds that had been left to fester.

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.

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

Historic Pierce Chapel African American Cemetery

Leadership Council | Friends of Pierce Chapel African American Cemetery

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.

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

Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Ronald Golden

3 Vets and a 5 ton
SPOUZAL

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.

Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card

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

Hamilton Hood Foundation, Inc.