Black Church leaders from some of the largest Protestant denominations and state Baptist conventions are encouraging the National Park Service (NPS) to develop more memorials and historical markers that recognize the history of their community. The clergy say that “memorializing such history is healing for the black community.”
In 1991, a `burial ground with more than 15,000 Africans was discovered in lower Manhattan, New York. NPS declared the land a National Historic Landmark in 1993. However, clergy say the declaration took over a decade of political pushing and preservation work. To date, there are no designated sites on public land that document lynchings or mass killings of African Americans.
Leaders say their top site to preserve to document atrocities against their community is Mother Emanuel, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, SC. The group wants memorials and historical markers for the 1906 Atlanta race riot, the 1873 Colfax massacre and the 1923 Rosewood massacre. Clergy also suggested sites for honoring Black leaders like Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and Frederick Douglass and designations for Historical Black Colleges and Universities.
Achieving the declaration is a lengthy process. NPS is required to complete a study and receive approval by Congress or the President. Church leaders say that their suggestions in the past have been “politely ignored.”