Project marking African American graves in Greenwood Cemetery - - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: Marking African American graves in Greenwood Cemetery

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

There is an interesting project going on in Jackson's Greenwood cemetery.  The cemetery association is locating and marking the graves of African Americans who were buried there. And doing so is not as easy as you might think.

Jackson's oldest burial ground has been here longer than anything else still standing in the city. And if you were here, and you died, you got buried here.

Whoever you were; Black, white, whoever, that means the cemetery is unusual in a way, because it was never just for whites or just for blacks. It has always been integrated. And that wasn't all that common in that day.

Cecile Wardlaw is the director of the Greenwood Cemetery Association and says, "We think it was very unusual. We knew that there were never any designated sections in Greenwood Cemetery. There was no order to the way the early burials were and we still don't know who those people were. And most of them don't have monuments."

Some of the African American's buried here have always been known about because of their monuments.

Cecile tells us, "The Secretary of State James Lynch being one of our most beautiful monuments and one that we certainly knew about. Dr. Sidney Redmond has a family mausoleum and we knew about that."

 But a list of Jackson burials in the early 1900s surfaced in the state archives recently, and of the people buried in Greenwood Cemetery in that time period, a good third of them were black. Which prompted the search to identify who is who.

Cecile says, "Most of them are in the older section of the cemetery. Sometime there is some distinguishing mark like the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows was a black institution. There's a number of graves along the Lamar street fence that face west instead of facing east and I think it's because they're facing their community and their church."

But of the African American's that have been found and will still be, there will be a brochure printed of them and African American grave tours organized.

 "And particularly for the Freedom Summer activities coming up. We think that this will be an important tour to add to those activities."

Not to mention all this information they are digging up is helping fill in some of the blanks in Jackson's history. 

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