Call to Address Threats to Historic Black Cemeteries

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Provided by Prince William Conservation Alliance

On this significant day of Juneteenth, Coalition to Save Historic Thoroughfare, the Prince William Conservation Alliance and Jermantown Cemetery, will address the recent reports of damage to two historic Black cemeteries due to data center expansion. This incident, reported in May, has raised serious concerns about the ongoing neglect and disregard for historic and sacred sites within Prince William County.

Frank Washington, spokesperson from Coalition for Save Historic Thoroughfare, said, “On Juneteenth, we need to reflect on the sacrifices made by our ancestors. Slavery was a brutal, painful, dehumanizing institution that stripped a people of their dignity, value, freedom and humanity. What is currently happening in our county to the Cemeteries and resting places of these very people is no less of an assault.”

The press conference will emphasize the county’s responsibility to protect these historic sites. “Rather than proactively adding fences, signs, and memorials, the county is shirking their duty by relying on developers and landowners to self-regulate and it’s not working,” Ashley Studholme, with the Prince William Conservation Alliance, added.

This Juneteenth, as we commemorate the end of slavery in the United States, these organizations also call upon the county to protect these historic Black cemeteries. It’s a state law and an opportunity to honor those in our past who endured so much. Resting in the Gaskin Cemetery are freed individuals from before the Civil War. These sites and their stories should be elevated and celebrated, not hidden amidst industrial development.

“We as descendants of many great people have a moral responsibility with preserving our ancestors’ resting places, truths, and history. It is an act of remembrance and respect, a way to honor their legacies for generations to come,” said Linneall Naylor.

Speakers at the event include:

  • Ashley Studholme, Executive Director of the Prince William Conservation Alliance
  • Linneall Naylor, President of Jermantown Cemetery Preservation Society, President-Naylor Family Historical Society, Co-author of Black Communities of Fairfax (A History), and President of Restoring Roots: Genealogy Research
  • Frank Washington, Spokesperson for the Coalition to Save Historic Thoroughfare

The speakers will provide insights into the significance of these historic cemeteries and the urgent need for preservation efforts.

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