News for Immediate Release
April 10, 2014
Speaker Series to Focus on Historic African-American Burial Grounds in April
Harrisburg – Protecting historic African-American burial grounds
in the region will be the topic of the next lecture in the South Mountain
Speakers Series on Thursday, April 17, at Shippensburg University.
“Over the last 250 years,
African American churches and organizations have established dozens of burial
grounds in communities throughout the South Mountain region,” said Jon
Peterson, a planner with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy who is coordinating
the committee on the speaker series. “These historic cemeteries provide
remarkable sites for documenting the rich African American history of the
region, including African-American military service in the United States Civil
Grounds, Endangered History: Preserving the Historic African-American Burial
Grounds of the South Mountain Region,” will be held at 7 p.m. at the Old Main
Chapel at 1871 Old Main Drive, Shippensburg. It is free and open to the public.
Today, many of the historic
burial grounds have vanished, or they are threatened by a combination of neglect,
vandalism and development.
Dr. Steven Burg, professor of history
at Shippensburg University, will discuss the ways that the historic burial
grounds of the South Mountain can be used to discover the region’s rich
Following his presentation, a
panel will discuss the threats posed to these sites and a variety of efforts
that are currently underway to preserve them, and protect and share the stories
of these hallowed grounds.
includes Larry Knutson, president of Penn Trails; Lenwood Sloan, former
director of Pennsylvania's Cultural and Heritage Tourism Program; and Barbara
Barksdale, founder of Friends of Midland, an organization that is restoring
Harrisburg's Midland Cemetery, a pre-Civil War African American cemetery.
is supported by the Pennsylvania Hallowed Ground Project and Shippensburg University.
The annual South Mountain
Speakers Series is envisioned as a revival of the talks given by Joseph
Rothrock in the late 19th century as part of his work to preserve and restore
Pennsylvania’s forests and natural landscape. The fifth season of the Speakers
Series is sponsored by the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau.
Two additional lectures this
year will include:
Face of Agriculture in the South Mountain Region: Re-creating the Cider
Industry,” Oct. 4-5 and 11-12 at the National Apple Harvest Festival,
and the South Mountain Region,” Nov. 13 at Dickinson College.
The South Mountain Partnership
was sparked by DCNR’s effort to engage communities, local partners and state
agencies and identify funding opportunities to conserve high-quality natural
and cultural resources while enhancing the region’s economic viability.
It is a public-private
partnership between DCNR and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and has grown
into a coalition of citizens, businesses, non-profit organizations and
government representatives in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties,
working together to protect and enhance the South Mountain landscape.
South Mountain is at the
northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Communities in the 400,000-acre
region have thrived off fertile limestone agricultural lands, the timber that
fed iron furnaces, plentiful game and wildlife, and abundant pure spring water
that is captured by the mountains’ permeable soils and released into the
For more information about the
speaker series, visit http://southmountainspeakers.blogspot.com/
or call the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at 717-258-5771.
Some of the earlier lectures in
the speaker series can be found on YouTube at
Media contact: Christina Novak, 717-772-9101