Geer Cemetery Restoration Awareness Ceremony – Saturday, 6/22
What: Restoration Awareness Ceremony hosted by Friends of Geer Cemetery
When: Saturday, June 22nd, 11am-1pm
Where: Geer Cemetery, 800 Colonial Street (Google Maps)
This event is free and open to the public - please sign up here and spread the word!
Endangered by neglect, development, and unclear ownership, the Geer Cemetery is perhaps the single most important artifact of Durham’s African-American community from the city’s earliest years.
Soon after the City of Durham was founded in 1869, officials of the new city set about creating a publicly maintained burial place for white citizens. Maplewood Cemetery opened in 1872. No equivalent cemetery was created for Durham’s African-American residents. In 1877, African-American leaders in the community purchased a few acres from the Geer family to serve as a cemetery for African-Americans. From 1877 until 1925, when the city finally created Beechwood Cemetery, the Geer Cemetery served as Durham’s primary burial place for African-Americans. The cemetery remained open until the 1930s, but fell into disuse and neglect after that. Trees and dense undergrowth took over and markers in the cemetery fell or were knocked down. Beginning in the 1990s, various groups began work to clean up the cemetery and draw attention to its plight. The Friends of Geer Cemetery grew out of these efforts and is now working to preserve the cemetery and rediscover its history.
The Restoration Awareness Ceremony will include a libation ceremony by Dr. E. Victor Maafo and stories of some of the people buried in the cemetery. Ron Bartholomew of Durham Marble Works will re-erect a grave stone toppled and buried long ago. Volunteers will be on hand to record information and memories about the cemetery from descendants and the community. Visitors will be encouraged to linger and discover the history, serenity, and beauty of the Geer Cemetery for themselves.
The cemetery is located one block east of Avondale Avenue on the edge of the Duke Park neighborhood at the corner of Camden and Colonial Avenues.