Resurrecting Love: The Cemetery That Can Heal a Nation

Dec 6, 2011 by

Resurrecting Love: The Cemetery That Can Heal a Nation

Sharon and I both love cemeteries. One important aspect of the work we’ve committed ourselves to along our healing journey involves burial grounds. We both turn our heads to check them out when we pass them in our cars. We’ll walk through them and read headstones whether we have relatives buried there or not. Over the past two years we have visited many cemeteries together. We’ve each made exciting discoveries of ancestors in several different states. We even learned that we both have relatives buried–not far from each other–in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.

We’ve encountered segregated cemeteries as well as completely separate cemeteries for people of color. Many such cemeteries have long been neglected, forgotten, and even covered over, including some you may have read about in New York City and at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Fortunately, some long-forgotten burial grounds are being either restored or at least respectfully marked.

Love Cemetery is located in Harrison County in East Texas. I learned about it last October when I met China Galland, the author of Love Cemetery: Unburying the Secret History of Slaves. Next up is a film based upon the book and events that have unfolded since the book was published in 2007. From the film’s website:

This is a story of the friendship two women who meet in East Texas, one white, China Galland, whose family moved there in 1900 to raise peaches, and one African American, Doris Vittatoe, whose family was brought there enslaved.

Stories of people trying to heal traumatic wounds from long ago continue to unfold in far-flung places throughout the United States. It’s hard work. It doesn’t always proceed smoothly. Doris and China’s friendship has been sorely tested.

Yet in the words of Dr. King that form the foundation for Coming to the Table, “the sons [and daughters] of former slaves and the sons [and daughters] of former slave owners [are sitting] down together at the table of brotherhood.” It’s a privilege to learn about people who are doing so, and to witness their unfolding. The story of Love Cemetery is one that I will follow closely. You can follow their progress on the film’s website and on Facebook.

Thomas Norman DeWolf is author of

Inheriting The Trade

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