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African – American Cemeteries. 10 to 20 million Africans brought over as slaves Many from the Gold Coast. From Chicora.

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Presentation Transcript
from chicora
From Chicora
  • 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.
Slave burials seemed more likely at night, Why?
  • Buried East – West, Why?
  • Head at west to rise up to face Gabriel
  • Or to face Africa
  • Buried on Marginal property
  • Not unlike other agricultural areas with limited land
  • Variety of markers used
  • Besides wood and stone slabs
  • Plants, to reflect living spirit
Suggested that plants may have been used to keep spirits away
  • Sometimes just convenient objects were used
  • Use of shells; perhaps to enclose the soul’s immortal presence
  • Also think of costal geography
  • Offerings on top of the grave
  • A wide variety, Why? Many explanations –
  • To symbolize the body destroyed by death
  • Prevents the dead from returning
  • Nobody seems to really know
Chicora points out that family groupings seemed not important
  • It was connection to graveyard
  • This in fact might be due more to tie to location then graveyard (I think)
  • But there did seem to be a desire to be buried in a specific graveyard
Burials were shallow
  • None deeper than 4 feet
  • Both coffins and bodies wrapped in shrouds
  • Lots of coffin hardware found
  • These graves were from 1840-1870
  • Not necessarily bare-bones (so to speak) burials