When this Virginia highway was built the markers for slave graves were pulled downBreaking News
tags: slavery, Virginia
The old man was Matt Burnett, a lifelong resident of this mountain-top community in Patrick County. In 1984, Burnett was an 80-year-old man living with a regret that he confessed to Heafner as the two men walked in a grassy pasture just a few yards from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Nearly 50 years earlier in that same meadow, as the parkway was being built in about 1936, Burnett had been part of a work crew that had removed the headstones from an old slave cemetery. He and other men had pulled up the simple fieldstone grave markers and had hauled them into the nearby woods. The plan was to replace the stones when the road was finished, Burnett said, but that never happened. The slave cemetery was all but forgotten.
“You could tell the man felt bad about it,” Heafner said, recalling that conversation.
Burnett asked Heafner if he would make sure that people would someday know about the forgotten slaves hiding in plain sight next to a road traveled by millions. Heafner was young then, a businessman and a publisher who knew people in Meadows of Dan and up and down the parkway. Surely, Burnett thought, Heafner could find a way to place a monument or memorial to those people, so that their lives wouldn’t remain buried in the past.
“I want you to promise to get it done,” the old man demanded.
“I’ll do my best,” Heafner replied. Burnett died three years later.
comments powered by Disqus
- A girl named Greta and the seriously sexist history of Time’s Person of the Year
- Poll: Majority of Democrats think Obama was better president than Washington
- Civil War Soldiers Used Hair Dye to Make Themselves Look Better in Pictures, Archaeologists Discover
- Monumental statue of black man defies Confederate monuments
- From Consensus To Deadlock: Is Impeachment Still A Check On Presidents?
- Black Scholars Respond to Dr. Lorgia García Peña Tenure Denial at Harvard
- Historians Kirsten Weld and Erik Baker Interviewed About Harvard Graduate Worker Strike in Chronicle of Higher Education
- Kate Shaw: Andrew Johnson Was Impeached for Being a Racist Demagogue
- Bullets That Killed John F. Kennedy Immortalized as Digital Replicas by Smithsonian
- 37 books for history lovers: 11 Historians Select Their Favorite Books of 2019