Walter Pierce Cemeteries at Risk

Volunteers Clean Walter Pierce Park in Adams Morgan

We last discussed the cemeteries at Walter Pierce Park here.

From an email:

The desecration of Washington’s largest post-Civil War African American cemetery continues today. National Park Service and Rock Creek Park officials are throwing large boulders and piles of dirt on to, and pounding wooden stakes into the west hillside of the Colored Union Benevolent Association cemetery site. They are doing this while one contract archaeologist with two days’ experience at the site–and apparently no knowledge of its history–monitors the work.

The fragility of this hillside cannot be overstated. It contains exposed and close-to-the-surface remains and grave artifacts.

Park officials have excluded the Walter Pierce Park Archaeology Team from the National Park Service-owned portion of the historic cemetery. They have refused to allow us to act as monitors or to conduct non-invasive ground-penetrating radar there. Our City Councilmember Jim Graham, Washington Parks & People, our neighborhood association (Kalorama Citizens Association), and our Adams Morgan advisory neighborhood commission (ANC-1-C) have all been rebuffed in their requests that the Walter Pierce Park Archaeology Team be part of an effort to protect the graves, while erosion on the hillside is contained.

Members of the Walter Pierce Archaeology Team have visited the site the past two mornings to announce their objection to what is taking place. The work continues as I write.

It is important that you–the DESCENDANTS, the SCHOLARS, the CONCERNED COMMUNITY–let National Park Service officials know immediately that you object to this dishonorable treatment of the Colored Union Benevolent Association Cemetery. The Director of the National Park Service is: Jon Jarvis, [email protected]; the Director of the National Capital Region is Peggy O’Dell, peggy_o’[email protected]; the acting superintendent of Rock Creek Park is Cindy Cox, [email protected] . Please note that the first and last names of each official is separated by an underscore line.

I will keep you informed,

Mary Belcher, community liaison to the Walter Pierce Park Archaeology Project

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