Surveyors find 800 unmarked graves in Atlanta cemetery

ATLANTA - A new effort to restore a 3.5-acre section of Oakland Cemetery has uncovered hundreds of unmarked graves.

The Historic Oakland Foundation is currently working to fund and complete a $300,000 restoration of the African American burial grounds located in the city's first cemetery.

Learn more about the restoration 5:30 p.m. Sunday, February 5, on "People 2 People." 

"Our history with the African American burials here goes back to pre-Civil War, through segregation, through Jim Crowe and then finally today, long after emancipation," foundation CEO David Moore said. "The lessons that we learn from the trials and tribulations of those folks speak to us in terms of where we go from here."

Ground-penetrating radar used last fall helped the staff identify the locations of the graves where markers had long since been damaged, or otherwise disappeared.

"You had a lot of plant materials, wooden materials that aren't visible here anymore," Moore said. "But it doesn't mean that people aren't buried here."

In addition to identifying more than 800 unmarked graves, the nonprofit has plans to restore walkways, monuments and walls.

"I hope that the restoration work that we do here honors and respects the diversity of the people buried here and the monuments that represent them," said Ashley Shares, manager of preservation.

The nonprofit is currently seeking

to complete the three-phase restoration project.