Our first blog post focuses on a largely forgotten but highly significant African American burial ground known as Laurel Cemetery in Northeast Baltimore. This landmark represents the essence of an Otobo community anchor that carries the cultural spirit of its people.
Laurel Cemetery, just opposite Clifton Park Golf Course on Belair Road, was once the final resting place for thousands of Baltimore’s African American citizens, including Civil War veterans. Many of these individuals were prominent members of the clergy, lawyers, and civil rights leaders, such as Pauli Murray, Lillie Carroll Jackson, Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne, Cab Calloway, and many others. The history of the cemetery’s demise and the relocation of only a fraction of its sacred remains (possibly only about several hundred), as far away as Carroll County, is the subject of a research project spearheaded by Elgin Klugh, Ph.D., Coppin State University and The Laurel Cemetery Memorial Task Force.
A symposium was held in June of 2019, at Coppin to present the group’s findings and to prompt discussion and planning. A panel composed of historians, community members, and The Task Force, came together “to outline a strategy for respectfully memorializing the site.” Since that time, the project has forged relationships with the Belair-Edison community, the Development Company that owns the Food Depot Shopping Center, as well as other non-profits groups and the City.
The views expressed here are those of the Carroll Park Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Laurel Cemetery Memorial Task Force.