Pulitzer Center Update

Pulitzer Center Interns Report on Neglected Slave Cemeteries for Sojourners

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Edwina St. Rose is part of the team working to preserve an African American cemetery in Charlottesville, VA. Image by Arthur Jones. United States, 2017.

Edwina St. Rose is part of the team working to preserve an African American cemetery in Charlottesville, VA. Image by Arthur Jones. United States, 2017. 

Pulitzer Center interns Arthur Jones and Ifath Sayed teamed up to report on efforts to preserve neglected historic African American cemeteries in Washington, DC and Virginia. Their work, which includes a print story written by Sayed and a short documentary by Jones, was published in Sojourners

Slave cemetaries, lacking the financial and community support of white cemeteries, often fall into disrepair. 

Sayed writes: “'White communities have tended to have greater resources at their disposal to preserve and maintain their cemeteries,' said Adam Rothman, a history professor at Georgetown University. He added that in every walk of life, whether it be education, healthcare, insurance, real estate, or any other domain of the American economy and social life, white Americans have tended to be wealthier than their African-American counterparts."

Still, states like Virginia are taking steps to help in efforts to preserve the resting places of African Americans: "This February, Virginia passed House bill 1547, which directs funds to organizations that preserve African-American gravesites. Previously, the state only subsidized the preservation of cemeteries that contain graves of confederate soldiers. According to Rothman, this preferential treatment demonstrated the public’s commitment to preserving and honoring white heritage and is another manifestation of racial inequality in the United States."

The full story and documentary is available on Sojourners' website