In this weekend’s Washington Post, there was an article about a child interred in Georgetown’s Mt. Zion Female Union Band Society Cemetery. Nannie, as her gravestone states, died in 1856 at age 7. Nannie is one of the thousands buried in this historic Black cemetery. This summer, Eagle Eye Tutoring’s Headstones and History course will research the lives of those, like Nannie, interred in the Mt. Zion FUBS Cemetery.
Tucked away behind some apartment buildings on a dead-end street is a cemetery that holds hidden information about the story of Black Georgetown. For nearly 300 years, African Americans were an important force in Georgetown. They were physicians, chefs, real estate tycoons, draymen, business owners, artisans, coachmen, and laborers. Their community in Georgetown was a cocoon where they raised families, played, laughed, grieved, and loved – even as they helped escaping slaves, became the first African American voters in US history, and fueled Georgetown’s growth with their labor and wit. Their contributions and stories have largely been ignored, forgotten, covered up. It is time to fix that, and it starts in the Mt. Zion Cemetery.
Some 8000 African Americans from Georgetown and the surrounding region were buried in the Mount Zion Cemetery from the early 19th to the mid 20th century. Those interred show the economic diversity of the community. Using their names and dates of death, we will use genealogical research and primary documents to learn about their lives and to celebrate them. No one has conducted this critical research from this perspective. Our students will be discovering and making history at the same time: they will be Citizen Historians, participating in ambitious and exhilarating crowdsourced research.
Our results will be donated to the Mount Zion – Female Union Band Society Foundation, which is in the process of transforming this forgotten corner of Georgetown into a memorial park to honor the memories and celebrate the lives of the interred.