Between 2017-2019, we facilitated a memorialization process, working with the City of Charleston, the University of Pennsylvania and the College of Charleston, and other partners to provide a series of 'Community Conversations', conduct ancient DNA research into the ancestry of the 36 Ancestors and a study of genetic diversity in Charleston today. We also created an education and arts program to engage community members, of all ages, in preparations for the reinterment of the Ancestors on May 4th, 2019.
The discovery of our Ancestors provided a significant opportunity to reconcile this past and honor the people that were buried on this sacred ground. The remains of the thirty-six, probably African-descended, individuals are the earliest burials found in Charleston so far, dating to 1760-1800.
We were awarded three grants from the National Geographic Society to conduct ancient DNA analyses and community engagement. Our research and engagement programs built upon archaeological and historical research already completed to help us learn more about the 36 individuals and rebury them with appropriate honor and respect.
Community Conversations were held at various community venues in and around Charleston and were free and open to all. Our over-arching goal was to ensure that the African-descended community shape the memorialization process, the research and stories told about the roles of African peoples in this city, and the memorial landscape in Charleston.