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Willow Hill hosts African-American cemetery tours
Saturday’s first of monthly series for 400th-year commemoration
Dr Alvin Jackson.jpg
In this photo from the 2016 Willow Hill Festival, Dr. Alvin Jackson, chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center, left, speaks with fellow Willow Hill School alumnus Bearneas Dukes Lanier. Dr. Jackson will lead a tour of the Fish Trap Cemetery on Saturday.

The Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center is launching a series of monthly African-American cemetery tours with a tour set for Saturday of the historic Mount Pisgah, or “Fish Trap,” Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.

Participants will meet at the historic Willow Hill School, now the Heritage and Renaissance Center, 4235 Willow Hill Road near Portal, at 8 a.m. and travel to the cemetery for a tour led by Dr. Alvin D. Jackson. The event is free and open to the public.

2019 is the nationally recognized year of “Commemoration of 400 Years of African-American History.” The Willow Hill Center is hosting the series of tours, “If These Cemeteries Could Talk,” the third Saturday of each month as part of the area commemoration.

The Willow Hill Center hosted an open forum in January where volunteers heard information about U.S. House Resolution 1242, which authorizes the national commemoration, and began planning for area events. An expansion of the ninth annual Willow Hill Heritage Festival, which will begin Aug. 31, to include events through September is also in the works.

H.R. 1242, signed by President Donald Trump on Jan. 8, 2018, called for a federal commission to support a commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies. This has been dated from the landing of a group of enslaved people in Virginia in 1619. Introduced by U.S Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Virginia 3rd District, the bill had passed the House and Senate in 2017.

The law authorizes the commission to make grants of up to $20,000 each to communities and nonprofit organizations for use in programs that assist in the national commemoration. It also provides for grants to scholarly and research organizations for researching or publishing information on African-American history.

For more information about the tour series, call Dr. Gayle Jackson, the Willow Hill Center’s development director, at (419) 307-3871.


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