Cultural Heritage Partners Applauds African American Burial Grounds Network Act Introduction in Congress
The federal support and expertise of the National Park Service may be headed toward historic African American cemeteries through the African American Burial Grounds Network Act.
Thanks to Representatives Alma S. Adams (D-NC) and A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) – who introduced this bill during Black History Month – and Cultural Heritage Partners’s client the Society for Historical Archaeology, this legislation would create a voluntary, nationwide database of historic burial grounds to provide technical assistance for partners to research, survey, identify, record, preserve, evaluate, and interpret these sites. The bill would also enable grants to be offered for preservation and education activities for communities to learn about these historic sites.
The Society for Historical Archaeology has championed this bill as a way to combat the abuse and neglect of African American burial grounds. Many of these sacred spaces face significant challenges resulting from racial inequity in past American laws and public policy, including a lack of municipal support, poor mapping, unstable or undesirable locations, and heavy overgrowth. Often times, they lay undiscovered until they are badly deteriorated or threatened by an imminent development project.
CHP is proud to support the Society for Historical Archaeology’s efforts to promote this important heritage legislation, and we commend Reps. Adams and McEachin for introducing it. The bill is receiving bipartisan support and is now co-sponsored by House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), and Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA).
The several positive news stories and the ever-growing list of endorsing organizations also illustrate the strong support for this legislation. Currently, more than 40 national and regional groups endorse the bill, including the Coalition for American Heritage, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Howard University, the University of Virginia, the United States Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society Inc., and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
CHP urges swift passage of the bill to chronicle and preserve African American burial grounds for future generations. If your organization is interested in endorsing the bill or conducting advocacy on behalf of the legislation, please get in touch with Advocacy Coordinator Kelly Lizarraga or Cultural Resources Specialist Ellen Chapman.