Troy Johnson | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Troy Johnson head shot

Name: Troy Johnson
Title: Buried History: Exploring the Sacred Bond Between African Americans and Their Cemeteries
Major: Anthropology
Minor: Studio Art
Advisors: Pam Frese; Beth Derderian

In the silent grounds of African American cemeteries, whispers of untold stories and buried injustices linger. This study unearths the secrets hidden beneath the soil, delving deep into the heart of historical neglect and systemic inequality. Embarking on a journey guided by theories of double consciousness, social and cultural capital, and structural violence, it unveils the profound complexities shaping these sacred spaces, inviting you to confront the echoes of the past and the urgent call for justice. Through a comprehensive literature review, the research explores existing scholarship on African American cemeteries, showcasing their role as repositories of cultural heritage, memory, and identity. Central to the analysis is the examination of historical legacies leading to neglect, desecration, and erasure of these sacred sites within broader historical narratives. This study underscores the intersectionality of race, class, and gender in shaping the cultural landscape of African American cemeteries. It contributes to discussions on cultural heritage preservation, social justice, and racial equity, emphasizing the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to address inequities and uphold the dignity and rights of all individuals.

My grandparents’ stories shaped my pride in our family’s heritage, emphasizing how cemeteries preserve our ancestors’ legacies. Sadly, many of these sites have fallen into disrepair, been abandoned, or even intentionally destroyed over time. Through my research, I aim to highlight the importance of preserving African American cemeteries. Despite facing loss and inequality, my findings reveal moments of joy and celebration within African American communities. This study underscores how, amidst hardship, African Americans persist in expressing joy and resilience.

Posted in Symposium 2024 on April 24, 2024.