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African American Burial Grounds Act sponsored by U.S. Sen Sherrod Brown of Cleveland to become law and awaits President Biden's signature....It provides for grants and related research on the identification and preservation of Black burial grounds

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Staff article

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) (pictured), a Cleveland Democrat and Ohio's most prominent Democrat, announced that his African American Burial Grounds Preservation Act was included in the FY2023 Omnibus Spending Package. The bipartisan legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and after passing both the House and  Senate now heads to President Joe Biden's desk to be signed into law. It opens the door for grants and related research on the identification and preservation of African American burial grounds natiowide.

Brown first introduced similar legislation in 2019 after he visited Union Baptist Cemetery in Cincinnati following news reports of vandalism at the cemetery and the cemetery's call for much-needed repairs. Union Baptist Cemetery was founded in 1864 and includes the remains of former slaves, African American Union soldiers and civil rights activists.

"As a nation, we have failed to preserve historic Black burial grounds around the country. That's why we've worked with the community, and with civil rights, veterans, and historic preservation groups to introduce bipartisan legislation to preserve these hallowed grounds," said Brown, a seasoned member of the U.S. Senate. "Cemeteries like Union Baptist are important historical sites, and they're tools for education and understanding the American story. Now we will b,e able to preserve these sites before they are lost to the ravages of time or development."

In carrying out the program, Interior may make grants to other federal agencies, state, local, and tribal governments, other public entities, and educational institutions, historic preservation groups and private nonprofit organizations for the following:

  • the identification of historic African-American burial grounds,
  • the preservation and restoration of African-American burial grounds,
  • the interpretation of African-American burial grounds, and
  • related research and documentation for historic African-American burial grounds

Julie Schablitsky, president of the Society for Historical Archaeology, said that "the African American Burial Grounds Preservation Program will support descendant communities and their allies in saving our history, while simultaneously informing development decisions and community planning."

Society for Historical Archaeology members are among those that have advocated for federal leadership to protect and preserve these sacred places, along with groups such as Heritage Ohio.

"Since Senator Brown's visit to the African American Union Baptist Cemetery in Cincinnati, Heritage Ohio has been proud to be a supporter of Sherrod Brown's bill to establish the African American Burial Grounds Network Act" said Dave Williams, Heritage Ohio Board Chair. "It's disheartening how little is known about the location of these historically important cemeteries. This bill will strengthen the discovery of these unknown places through the power of networking and technical assistance to Ohio's local historians and descendant communities."

City officials in Cincinnati were also elated.

"The citizens of Cincinnati are grateful to Senators Sherrod Brown and Mitt Romney for their understanding of the importance of cemeteries," said Cincinnati Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney. She added that "Senators Brown and Romney's advocacy exemplifies respect for our heritage, and we cannot thank them enough." and the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: We interviewed former president Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview, CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS.


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