Belmont Slave Cemetery Freedom Celebration 2017

11/14/2017 08:59:30 AM

Nov14

Seth Leventhal

On Sunday Nov. 12, Seth and Jackie Leventhal represented BCRC at the annual oral history walking tour and wreath laying ceremony at the Belmont Slave Cemetery located across RT 7 from Landsdowne, sponsored by the Loudoun Freedom Center. Did you know that this slave cemetery existed right in the middle of our neighborhood? As we learned on the historic walk, Landsdowne is on the grounds of the old Coton Plantation, owned in the pre-Civil War days by Thomas Ludwell Lee. His cousin Ludwell Lee owned the Belmont plantation, across the Leesburg Pike. One of their descendants wrote in a journal about a slave cemetery (pictured). Before developers could pave it over and put up a housing development or shopping center, the Freedom Center was able to obtain the deed to the site.

Prior to the historic walk Sunday, a number of speakers talked about the slave cemetery. Dr. Blakey and his Anthropology team from the College of William and Mary talked about the kind of things you can learn from these sites, from the artifacts, ruins, and even from remains of the people buried there. They are assisting on this restoration project. State Senator Jennifer Wexton spoke about how we have memorialized Civil War gravesites for many years - there are 214 just in Virginia! But we have just started recognizing slave cemeteries, and she plans to work to add this site to the historic registry.

At the burial site, a moving wreath laying ceremony was held, with music from the Dominion High School choir, prayers, poetry written by a local student, and a military presentation by the Leesburg Civil Air Patrol fife and drum corps. The event coordinators described how with the help of all their supporters and local public officials, plans are underway to restore the site with historic markers, and a local Boy Scout talked abut how he is planning an Eagle Scout project to build a trail so that people can walk to and from the site. This is an annual event so think about joining us next year! For now, be sure to check out the full photo album on our web site.

Tue, November 21 2017 3 Kislev 5778