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Saving A Cemetery: Grassroots Archaeology and Activism at Walter Pierce Park

November 16, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Image of an old headstone covered in dirt being held by gloved hands.

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Join the DC Preservation League and the Walter Pierce Park Archaeology Project on Wednesday, November 16th at 12:00 PM EDT (9:00 AM PT) for a webinar exploring the history and archaeology of Walter Pierce Park.

Located between Calvert Street and Adams Mill Road N.W., Walter Pierce Park originally served as a large burial site for African Americans and Quakers in the 1800s. Following the closure of the cemeteries in 1890, the gravesites fell into disrepair. Various threats of development have come and gone, but the Walter Pierce Park Archaeology Project and the concerned community have worked diligently since 2005 to document and protect the site.

Image of a group of individuals sitting in a circle in a park. They are holding pieces of paper and reading aloud the names of those buried in Walter Pierce Park. They were colorful shirts and are of varying ages.
Image of individuals at a “Saying Their Names, Telling Their Stories” ceremony event hosted by the Walter Pierce Park Archaeology Project. Photo by Gretchen Roberts-Shorter.

In recent years, an archaeological survey has revealed even more about the cemeteries and who is buried in Walter Pierce Park. Hear from a community activist, a descendant of individuals buried on the property, and an archaeologist who worked on the site about the significance and ongoing preservation of this important DC site.

Panelists include Mary Belcher, Dr. Shayla Monroe, and Tawana Thomas.

Mary Belcher is a community activist and local historian. She has been part of the grassroots Walter Pierce Park Archaeology and Commemoration Project since its inception in 2005. A visual artist and former journalist, she helps organize public events to raise awareness of the cemeteries.

Dr. Shayla Monroe is currently working as a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Mediterranean Prehistory and Paleoecology Laboratory at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Andre Ferrell is a descendant of Philip and Clara Johnson, both of whom were buried at Mt. Pleasant Plains Cemetery at Walter Pierce Park. The Johnsons came to Washington from Virginia during the Civil War and lived near 17th and P Streets, NW.


Click HERE to register for this event.

Questions? Ask us. We’d love to help.


Three individuals performing archaeological work with shovels and other tools. Image of hill with dirt and overgrown foliage behind them.
Three individuals conducting archaeological work at Walter Pierce Park. Photograph by Mary Belcher.


This virtual program is free and open to the public. It will also be streamed live to DCPL’s Facebook page.



November 16, 2022
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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