Juneteenth (June 19th) marks the day in 1865 when Union Army General Granger issued General Order No. #3 announcing in Galveston the freedom of over 250,000 enslaved people in the state of Texas. Today, we observe Juneteenth in order to recognize and honor that history.
We’d like to take a moment on this anniversary to highlight the work that is being done to preserve and protect Black burial sites—and share what you can do to help.
This year, Pierce Chapel African Cemetery was listed as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2023. Established circa 1828, it is one of the oldest burial grounds for Africans enslaved at several plantations in Harris County, Georgia, and their descendants. Estimated to contain up to 500 burials in two acres of land, the cemetery is a landscape of tribute and memory, with archaeological evidence of cultural traditions that trace back to West Africa.
The cemetery has deteriorated over time and suffered damage due to recent use of heavy construction equipment. The descendant-led Hamilton Hood Foundation is leading efforts to raise awareness about this significant place and preserve Pierce Chapel African Cemetery and its stories for future generations.
The dedicated volunteers that have been protecting and preserving these burial grounds could soon get additional support. The African American Burial Grounds Preservation Act, passed in December 2022, authorizes the National Park Service to establish a $3 million annual grant program to aid preservation efforts across the country.
Public advocacy by supporters like you can make a difference, and Black cemeteries, like Pierce Chapel, need your voice now more than ever to ensure the program is fully funded by Congress so the program can be implemented as intended.
Sign your name to let your elected officials know you support preserving these sacred landscapes to tell the stories of Black America’s unimaginable sacrifice and remarkable achievements. Ask them to support the newly authorized African American Burial Grounds Preservation Program by approving full funding of $3 million in FY 2024 appropriations.