Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Slavery archaeology update Cemetery for Civil War-Era Freed Blacks Rededicated
Living in crowded, unsanitary conditions, many of the freed blacks were disproportionately affected when illnesses swept through the area. "They had extremely poor housing after the Civil War," said Gadeken, a student at West Springfield High School, as she stood on the burial grounds, once forgotten and abandoned. "They had no property. They were free. What were they freed into? Nothing."

A road construction project and research by historians led to the cemetery's discovery.

Alexandria city officials and others gathered at the site Saturday to rededicate the cemetery. The beats of the African Heritage Drummers provided the backdrop for a ceremony that included the pouring of libations and singing of traditional spirituals by the City of Alexandria Choir. Alexandria poet laureate Mary McElveen read a poem written for the occasion. The luminarias were individually decorated by people in the community, including schoolchildren and others who attended community workshops.