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Urban Development, Cemeteries, and a Need to Remember
Published: 17 October 2012 by MDPI in The 2nd World Sustainability Forum session Sustainable Urban Development
Abstract: For the majority of its short tenure, the Mt. Pleasant Plains Cemetery (1860-1890), served as the largest African American cemetery in the District of Columbia. However, no sooner than it was founded, local residents and city officials expressed animosity toward the cemetery and had it subsequently condemned and the land reappropriated. Largely succeeding in their efforts to remove the cemetery and the memory of those interred, the lives of more than 8,000 African Americans and several European Americans remain concealed underground for more than a century. In 2005, soil erosion revealed the remains of several burials and with it the memory of the historic cemetery resurfaced. Using data acquired from an on-going archival and archaeological survey, this paper will demonstrate how deliberate attempts to erasure the historic memory of the African American presence have coincided with the disenfranchisement of African Americans in the capital of the United States of America. Furthermore the case of Mt. Pleasant Plains Cemetery serves as an ardent reminder of importance of maintaining public memory in the face of urban development.
Keywords: African American, Cemetery, Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, 19th century