Students Restore Forgotten Black Cemetery

The Tennessee graveyard was created when African Americans and whites couldn't be buried together.

Posted:
 
black_cemetery_2_102412_575jrw2
Thinkstock

"It's sad to think there's a cemetery here in the middle of the city of Cookeville and nobody even knew it was here," Carolyn Powell said about her work with American-history students from Tennessee Tech and Nashville State Community College to restore a largely forgotten graveyard while researching the African Americans who were buried there.

According to the Tennessean, the Tennessee cemetery was set apart at a time when black and white residents were not allowed to be buried in the same place, and while many of the graves don't have markers, the researchers have already determined that veterans of two wars were laid to rest there. Now students are getting a history lesson while giving its occupants the honor they deserve:

[Powell] told the Cookeville Herald Citizen that the project contributes to students' knowledge of history. It also gives them hands-on experience and allows them to apply some of what they are learning.

"It's experiential history," she said.

The graveyard had become overgrown with grass, brambles and saplings, and many of the tombstones and graves had sunk.

Powell said the students have to clean the sandstone markers in a special way so as not to damage them. Then they will have to reset the stones in a way so the elements do not erode the writing.

The Putnam County Archives is seeking photos and information on anyone who was buried there. It also is collecting donations to mark some of the graves.

Read more at the Tennessean.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.