RAD Files Title VI Civil Rights Complaint Against The City of Ranson

Boyd Carter Memorial/Methodist Cemeteries

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FEBRUARY 21, 2021

RAD Files Title VI Civil Rights Complaint Against The City of Ranson

On December 24, 2020, Rural Agricultural Defenders (RAD) submitted a Title VI Civil Rights Complaint against The City of Ranson (CoR) on behalf of the interred population of the African/African American Boyd Carter Memorial and Methodist Cemeteries and their Descendant Community to several Federal agencies (HUD, EPA, DOT, FWHA, and FTA).

RAD’s complaint indicates:

  • lack of governmental compliance with basic historic preservation and archaeological protocols
  • serious disparities in equity and access to equal representation in archaeological and bioarchaeological representation and historic preservation
  • The City of Ranson abused Federal funding to aid city zoning activities (redlining and exclusionary zoning) which caused adverse disparate impacts and treatment to a voiceless, minority population – the interred population of the Boyd Carter Memorial and Methodist Cemeteries.

Through our work, RAD hopes to ensure that a geographical area of approximately 400 acres of major African American historical significance in the United States, demonstrating a 257 year unbroken evolution from a slave burial ground to a segregated burial ground and culminating today as communal grounds for the 150-year old African American community of Harts Town, is given equal respect, opportunity for historic preservation, and fundamental human rights under all elements of United States law.

The discrimination and systemic racism are profound regarding these Cemeteries. This Title VI is the second Title VI that RAD has filed against West Virginia state and local agencies on behalf of the Cemeteries, their interred population, and Descendant Communities. (RAD’s Title VI filed Sept. 23, 2019)

RAD’s Title VI against Ranson includes a preliminary analysis of the cultural property crime of desecration and why RAD believes this type of crime occurs at this site and many other such sites:

  • Predation upon African/African American ancestral burial grounds and cemeteries through redlining and exclusionary zoning of African American communities and their burial grounds: a dehumanizing tool of historic human traffickers with modern iterations
  • Human trafficking and monetization of victims, in life and in death
  • Ongoing erasure of the scene of the crime: African/African American burial grounds and cemeteries are sites that contain important ancestral archaeological/bioarchaeological information regarding national and trans-national human trafficking in the early history of our nation.  The bioarchaeology of resistance and survival of African/African Americans is an important cultural property resource for humanity and living descendant communities. 
  • How analysis of the desecration/erasure of and predation upon African American ancestral burial grounds and cemeteries can help us to understand the pathology and etiology of structural and systemic racism in the United states and the impact of this racism on living communities.
  • The desecration/erasure of and predation upon African/African American burial grounds and cemeteries as Victims’ Rights issue in the past and in the present.  Preservation of African American burial grounds is preservation of community and ancestry. No Justice, No Peace.

Salient points are made in this Title VI which RAD believes will be helpful for anyone seeking to understand this type of cultural property crime against African Americans.

RAD invites:

  • public discourse, discussion and encourages volunteers to join us with our efforts to preserve African/African American burial grounds and cemeteries and the important bioarchaeological resources they contain
  • Liaison activity with others who are fighting against the predation upon and desecration of African/African American burial grounds and cemeteries

These Cemeteries are not the only African/African American burial grounds and cemeteries under threat of erasure in the United States. Many other such sites are currently under threat.

More research and investigation is necessary. However, if we want to discuss structural and systemic racism in the United States, we can, as a nation that includes descendants of trans-national human traffickers and the descendants of their victims/survivors, begin to discuss the ongoing desecration of African/African American burial grounds and cemeteries with open minds and hearts and the goal of justice and peace.

For additional information or media inquiries, please contact:

Jennifer King (chair@radwv.org)

Tammy Hilburn (tammy@radwv.org)

Giuliana Brogna (treasurer@radwv.org)

Tel: 202-677-8874