ACHP members and staff visited two Washington D.C. historic sites with important African American histories during their spring business meeting activities in March. They toured Tudor Place, the plantation owned by the family of Martha Washington and a National Historic Landmark, and Mt. Zion Cemetery, which was almost lost to history before being added to the National Register of Historic Places. Lisa Fager, Executive Director of Black Georgetown Foundation, led a tour of the cemetery, including a peek into a vault used to hide those escaping slavery through the Underground Railroad. Expert Member Charles “Sonny” Ward was moved by one stop on the tour.

“At the cemetery, we discovered the shared headstone of two women who had once been enslaved together, Mary Dyer and Elizabeth Clark, who, in freedom, chose to unite their families, creating a legacy of unity and resilience,” Ward said. "This story not only enriches our understanding of the past, but also reminds us of the power of family and community in overcoming adversity."

General Public Member Carmen Jordan-Cox said it was a powerful experience.

“It reminded us that we need to spend a lot of time as individuals and collectively to try to restore these cemeteries and handle the remains properly. Also, to make sure we don’t make some of the mistakes we’ve made in the past,” Jordan-Cox said.

ACHP Chair Sara Bronin said Mt. Zion reinforced for her the importance of the ACHP’s Burial Sites, Human Remains, and Funerary Objects policy statement, which aims to promote sound public policies that can protect and enhance cemeteries like this one, which have been inadequately cared for and are threatened.

The group then toured Tudor Place’s exhibit, Ancestral Spaces: People of African Descent at Tudor Place, which Ward said “connected us to the enduring spirit and contributions of all of those enslaved there.” The exhibit includes photos of the descendants of the enslaved workers and information about their lives there.

“The exhibit is illustrative of the profound work that preservationists are doing across the country to expand judgment on whose histories deserve to be told,” Chair Bronin said. “The visit energized me to continue to pursue the path ACHP members have set: to do all we can to recognize past wrongs – including omissions – and to forge a more inclusive path.”