November 1, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

Love Cemetery: Unburying the Secret History of Slaves

Love Cemetery: Unburying the Secret History of Slaves

China Galland

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0060779314

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


By the eve of the Civil War, there were four million slaves in North America, and Harrison County was the largest slave-owning county in Texas. So when China Galland returned to research her family history there, it should not have surprised her to learn of unmarked cemeteries for slaves. "My daddy never let anybody plow this end of the field," a local matron told a startled Galland during a visit to her antebellum mansion. "The slaves are buried there." Galland's subsequent effort to help restore just one of these cemeteries—Love Cemetery—unearths a quintessential American story of prejudice, land theft, and environmental destruction, uncovering racial wounds that are slow to heal.

Galland gathers an interracial group of local religious leaders and laypeople to work on restoring Love Cemetery, securing community access to it, and rededicating it to the memories of those buried there. In her attempt to help reconsecrate Love Cemetery, Galland unearths the ghosts of slavery that still haunt us today. Research into county historical records and interviews with local residents uncover two versions of history—one black, one white. Galland unpacks these tangled narratives to reveal a history of shame—of slavery and lynching, Jim Crow laws and land takings (the theft of land from African-Americans), and ongoing exploitation of the land surrounding the cemetery by oil and gas drilling. With dread she even discovers how her own ancestors benefited from the racial imbalance.

She also encounters some remarkable, inspiring characters in local history. Surprisingly, the original deed for the cemetery's land was granted not by a white plantation owner, but by Della Love Walker, the niece of the famous African-American cowboy Deadwood Dick. Through another member of the Love Cemetery committee, Galland discovers a connection to Marshall's native son, James L. Farmer, a founder of Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and organizer of the 1961 Freedom Riders. In researching local history, Galland also learns of the Colored Farmers' Alliance, a statewide group formed in the 19th century that took up issues ranging from low wages paid to cotton pickers to emigration to Liberia.

By telling this one story of ultimate interracial and intergenerational cooperation, Galland provides a model of the kind of communal remembering and reconciliation that can begin to heal the deep racial scars of an entire nation.

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“won” the elections in 1878. Given that white men were greatly outnumbered and that “it was impossible to defeat [blacks] at the polls by fair means,” Littlejohn wrote, the former town fathers decided that “any means we could adopt to overthrow that unscrupulous, thieving ring of carpet baggers would be just and right.” Formerly enslaved people were lumped into the category of northern carpetbaggers, thereby “justifying” all manner of activity. As Littlejohn explained, “It devolved on this

by hand, filled the buckets, and toted them across the road. That’s where we kept them.” Even though we were the same age, Doris had grown up without running water or electricity. She did her homework by a kerosene lamp. There was a copper bathtub in the kitchen where the family bathed in water heated on a woodstove. Doris grew up chopping cotton in the summers in a world where you learned to work alongside your family whether you liked it or not. The cotton picking came later. Driving down the

Doug’s whining gas-powered weed-whacker and Philip’s roaring older tractor pulling the brush hog close to the ground, chewing up and spitting out vines, branches, small trees, rocks, and whatever Philip pulled it over. R.D. and Coach guided Philip along. Ben and the scouts were diving into the undergrowth to get below the wisteria and check for headstones or grave markers. Ben popped up, his face drenched, raised both his arms above the shoulder-high wisteria, pulled off his cap, and waved,

Texas had actually contemplated selling off state parks and was doing budget cuts across the board. She wasn’t at all surprised that I hadn’t heard back yet. She knew Jim and assured me that he would respond eventually—which he did. There wasn’t such a simple, impersonal explanation for Doris, though.59 I was frustrated, but Doris was deeply disappointed. The sadness of it didn’t hit me until I received my own contribution back from her. My check fluttered out of her gracious thank-you note. I

the preservationists joined forces to stop the destruction and to create a powerful memorial, the Freedman’s Memorial Park. More than 1,000 burials were reinterred. The striking memorial marks the reconstitution of a sacred place and celebrates the contributions of African Americans to the city of Dallas. Forum on Religion and Ecology www.environment.harvard.edu/religion The Forum on Religion and Ecology P.O. Box 280, Lewisburg, PA 17837 The environmental crisis, global in scope and local

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