African – American Cemeteries. 10 to 20 million Africans brought over as slaves Many from the Gold Coast. From Chicora.
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These cemeteries typically have very long use -- meaning that they have many more burials than immediately meets the eye (we "see" only the most recent burials, many others have been filled in and are no longer easily recognizable).
They are maintained differently -- being cleaned up only yearly or only when a new burial is interred (often resulting in cleaning up only the access and burial site). Consequently, the look "abandoned" to Anglo eyes.
Graves are often marked differently -- because of both tradition and poverty many graves were marked using "living" memorials, such as bulb plantings, cedar trees, and yucca plants. Other graves were marked using impermanent markers, such as wood planks or stakes. And some graves were marked with unconventional items, such as iron pipes or even sections of railroad iron.
Traditional graves often had grave goods -- items ranging from bottles to shells. These funerary objects, while on the surface of graves, are not abandoned. Those discovering these objects have no right of ownership and can't confer a right of ownership to others -- they were intended to remain with the deceased. Removing these objects is the same as looting a grave.
These graveyards are typically not deeded or otherwise identified or recorded as cemeteries. Since most of these locations go back to slavery and have "always" been associated with the Black community, there has been no feeling that any legal deed or paperwork was necessary. They are rarely shown on maps and almost never appear on plats from the antebellum.
Even urban graveyards for African Americans remain different from adjacent white cemeteries. There is a strong tradition of mutual aid and cooperation. Burial associations and fraternal organizations both played major roles in more urban African American communities.