US – Bipartisan US Senators are asking for budget funds to help preserve important burial grounds.
U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC-12) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young to request that the fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget funds the African American Burial Grounds Preservation Program at the congressionally authorized level of $3 million.
“Preserving burial grounds and connecting with the memory of our lost loved ones and ancestors transcends cultures and communities – it connects us with our past and guides us as we enter the future. Authorizing African American Burial Grounds Preservation Program was a critical first step toward helping communities preserve these sacred spaces,” wrote the lawmakers. “Now, we must ensure that the program is properly funded to ensure that historic African American burial grounds are preserved and maintained for future generations.”
The African American Burial Grounds Preservation Act, signed into law as part of the FY2023 Omnibus Spending Package, establishes a program at the National Park Service to provide competitive grants and technical assistance to local partners to research, identify, survey and preserve these cemeteries. Providing federal resources will ensure sites like Union Baptist Cemetery in Cincinnati are preserved and maintained for future generations. Brown first introduced similar legislation in 2019 after he visited Union Baptist Cemetery in Cincinnati 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.
The letter in entirety can be read is available here