Project aims to get Atlanta’s oldest Black cemetery added to National Register for Historic Places

ATLANTA — The people who run South View Cemetery, Atlanta’s oldest Black cemetery, are fighting to get the recognition and funding they deserve.

For Winnie Watts Hemphill, her family’s legacy lives among the tombstones.

“My great-grandfather was one of the founders,” she told Channel 2′s Michael Doudna.

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138 years later, she is the president of the South View Cemetery Association, overseeing the graves of 80,000 people, which includes the namesakes of 22 Atlanta public schools and giants like Congressman John Lewis and baseball great Hank Aaron.

Many of the older plots are from a time before money was set aside to maintain them.

If the cemetery could make it on the National Register for Historic Places, its history could preserve it.

Atlanta Preservation Center’s David Mitchell says to get on the registry, you have to prove it belongs, so they went to Councilman Jason Winston to help fund the project.

Winston got the Atlanta City Council to approve to provide $50,000 to help with the application, hoping to keep legacies in South View preserved.

The $50,000 will be used to hire historians to create a thesis to present nationally.

It’s a rigorous process that takes around two years, but if approved they can apply for federal grants.


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