But over the years, the town apparently forgot that the plot of land adjacent to the Green Hill Cemetery held the remains of enslaved individuals. White folks treated the plot of land as a dump. I can’t help but think this disrespect was deliberate — in other cities and towns in the south, Black and African American burial grounds were plowed over, built on, deliberately obliterated and desecrated .
The slave cemetery was rediscovered in the 1970s, although the community continued to dump tires, old appliances, and household garbage and detrius in the area. It was common practice to toss road kill over the edge of the slope.
Several individuals took it upon themselves to clean up as much as they could. And in 2017, an organization was created — the Green Hill Historic African American Cemetery — to clean the garbage from this sacred site, find as many of the forgotten graves as they could, and care for the burial ground.
Those interred here were usually placed in shallow, mostly unmarked graves. Coffins were a rarity — most were buried in just blankets. Even today, after a storm, you’re likely to find bones uncovered by the rain.
Getting there: 486 East Burke Street, Martinsburg WV