CINCINNATI, OH – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited Union Baptist Cemetery as he introduces bipartisan legislation to create a voluntary, nationwide network of African American burial grounds and to provide federal assistance to ensure the burial sites are preserved and maintained for future generations.
“Earlier this year, I joined this group of leaders to visit this hallowed ground, and see all the work that was needed to restore this burial ground to the place of honor that it should be. It’s so important that we restore this place where Powhatan Beaty and Dr. Jennie Davis Porter and so many other great Black Ohioans are laid to rest, so that it can be appreciated for the historic place it is,” said Brown.
Brown introduced the legislation with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) after he visited Union Baptist Cemetery earlier this year 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.
Brown’s bill, the African American Burial Grounds Network Act, would:
- Create a voluntary, national database within the National Park Service of historic African American burial grounds and;
- Provide grant opportunities and technical assistance to local partners to research, identify, survey and preserve the burial grounds.
Brown was joined today by Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, Rev. Dr. Orlando B. Yates from Union Baptist Cemetery, and Dion Brown from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
“We are thankful for this legislation that will certainly inspire the documentation and access of information of African Americans that contributed so much to our nation,” said Mr. Brown from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
Companion legislation was introduced in the House by U.S. Reps. Alma Adams (D-NC-12), Donald McEachin (D-VA-4) and Ted Budd (R-NC-13). Creating and maintaining a network of African-American burial grounds will help communities preserve local history while better informing development decisions and community planning.