STATESBORO, Ga., (WSAV)- In honor of Black History Month and the 400th anniversary of Africans being brought to the United States, a group in Bulloch County is remembering slaves that lived in the area, by touring their graves.
The first of the “If These Cemeteries Could Talk”tours began at Mt. Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in Statesboro.
This cemetery is where some of the formerly enslaved African Americans from Bulloch County are buried.
Alvin Jackson, with the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center, the group sponsoring the tours, was the guide. He would call the names of some of the slaves buried there as well a give a brief history of their lives.
Stopping at times, so people on the tour could say their names.
“We have a saying ‘that you’re never truly dead until we, or they, stop calling your name.’ So today we wanted to call the names of the ancestors, give them new meaning and let them know that we appreciate the very tough legacy that they’ve left,” Jackson said.
He said this legacy of some of the slaves buried here includes them building the Willow Hill school in Portal. It was one of the first schools for African Americans in the area, built a couple of years after slavery ended.
“This is a part of American history, Georgia history, Bulloch County history often not included in the textbooks,” Jackson explained.
Another reason he said it’s important for the tour, so that message and others can be passed along to those who come.
Among the people on the tour was Detra Hodges. She said coming to this cemetery was special because it’s where one of her ancestors, Andrew Donaldson a former slave, is buried.
“It’s a joy to know that his grave is still in existence for us to see it because so many slaves graves are not in existence anymore, and people can’t find their direct lineage,” Hodges said.
Lineage she said she can always come back and visit.
The Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center plans to host more cemetery tours for the rest of this year and visit the 33 known African American cemeteries in Bulloch County.