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Historic African American Cemetery Project

St. Stephens AME Church and Cemetery, Talbot County – FY2017 & FY2018 AAHPP grant recipient.

African American cemeteries hold important stories, landscapes, artwork, and genealogical
clues, in addition to the remains of those who have gone before us. Unfortunately, cemeteries
and graveyards face many preservation challenges, including threats from development,
abandonment, vandalism, damage and decay, and inadequate legal protections. Historic African
American cemeteries are particularly at risk.

At the direction of the Maryland General Assembly, the Maryland Commission on African
American History and Culture (MCAAHC) and the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT, part of the
Maryland Department of Planning) are working together on a study documenting the needs of
historic African American cemeteries. The study report will include:

  • issues facing historic African American cemeteries, including identification, restoration,
    protection, preservation, maintenance or commemoration activities
  • an analysis of approaches in other states regarding cemetery identification, restoration,
    protection, preservation, maintenance, or commemoration activities
  • the design of a grant fund for the purpose of identifying, preserving, or maintaining
    historic African American cemeteries
  • ways in which MCAAHC can work with the descendants of those interred in African
    American cemeteries and burial grounds, in this and future efforts.

MCAAHC and MHT will create this report with feedback from stakeholders including the
Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, Preservation Maryland, descendants of individuals
interred in historic African American cemeteries, and other interested parties.

How You Can Help
We want to hear from you! What are the challenges facing cemeteries in your community? What
help is needed to protect historic African American burial grounds?

Please complete this survey and share the link with others who may be interested in participating
in this project. Your answers will inform the recommendations submitted to the Maryland
legislature next summer.

In the spring of 2022, MCAAHC and MHT will host focus groups with descendent communities
and organizations interested in cemetery preservation. If you would like to participate, please
sign up by taking the survey.

To get project updates, please check back here and follow MCAAHC and MHT on social media!


Contact: Chanel Compton, Executive Director, Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture – 


Elizabeth Hughes, Director and State Historic Preservation Officer, Maryland Historical Trust –