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Rhodes Helps To Educate Public About Rich History of Oldest African American Cemetery in Shelby County

Publication Date: 3/2/2012

For more than seven years, Dr. Milton Moreland, chair of the archaeology program at Rhodes, has been involved with the Zion Cemetery Project, working to restore the oldest African American Cemetery in Shelby County which is located in South Memphis.

Recently, Moreland was interviewed by WHBQ-TV anchor Mearl Purvis about Rhodes’ efforts to uncover the history of the cemetery which Purvis calls “the final resting place of 30,000 of the first black families of Memphis after the Civil War.”

Mooreland, students and other staffers at Rhodes have maintained a searchable database and carefully gone line by line through a recovered handwritten ledger of those buried in the cemetery including teachers, nurses, founders of the first black churches like Beale Street Baptist, and some of the first civil rights activists in the nation.

Uncovering the History of Zion Cemetery: MyFoxMEMPHIS.com


Founded in 1848, Rhodes College is a private, coeducational college of liberal arts and sciences. It aspires to graduate students with a lifelong passion for learning, a compassion for others, and the ability to translate academic study and personal concern into effective leadership and action in their communities and the world.



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Robert Llewellyn March 8, 2012

Great project, Milton. Nice to see such an outcome, even though there is more to be done, to what I know has been a lot of work in preparation.