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Walter Pierce Park

Washington, DC 20009

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On April 13th in honor of DC Emancipation Day, Parks & People hosts a Lights of Freedom event where community residents and descendants will join with the National Park Service and DC Parks and Recreation to light over 2,000 candle luminaries in honor of thousands of African Americans who were buried in what is now Adams Morgan's Walter Pierce park after they gained their freedom during the Civil War.
Each illuminated candle will be a tribute to four of the people who were buried under Walter Pierce Park and parts of the adjoining National Zoo and Rock Creek Park, which comprise the largest unmarked African American cemetery in the capital. At least 8,428 African American men, women, and children were buried in the Mount Pleasant Plains Cemetery between 1870 and 1890. More than half of the graves are children.
All are invited to join in the program at Walter Pierce Park, located off of Calvert Street, NW at the east end of the Duke Ellington Bridge. The program begins at 7pm. The candlelight begins to shine forth as dusk falls at 7:45, with music provided by area church choirs. There will be a period of silence as twilight settles in after 8:00 p.m. The candles will be displayed until 9:00 p.m.
A community partnership has completed a historical study and archaeological research about the cemetery, including information from ground-penetrating radar and magnetometry to help document the most sensitive areas of the site. This information will inform the development of a permanent park master plan for the site, which will seek to permanently protect the remains, to tell the stories of those buried there, and to provide a way for future generations to honor and never forget their stories.

If you are interested in volunteering to help setup the event, please send an email to hannah.moore@washingtonparks.net. Volunteers are needed from 9am-9pm but can also come for just 30 minutes if they are free as well!
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Walter Pierce Park

Washington, DC 20009

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