Before you are the known graves of almost 1,000 people who died enslaved. Despite the enormous number of people who died in slavery in the United States, the burial sites of only a small number of the enslaved are known. Oak Ridge Cemetery is significant not only for those we know are buried here but also because we will likely never find the graves of millions of others who died enslaved. We know of these burials because the City Council required the sexton over both Rose Hill and Oak Ridge to give monthly burial reports for these city-owned cemeteries. Although some months had no records, these reports contained in the official City Council minutes make Oak Ridge one of the most thoroughly documented public burial grounds of enslaved people in the state. Although no markers remain, the records of 961 burials here during the antebellum and Civil War years are credible. The graphic to the right shows the yearly totals of recorded burials in Oak Ridge Cemetery from 1840-1865.
"Somehow, the fact that they were people, human beings created as much in the image of God as any, tends to get lost in that word, slave. They are considered a different species by some, best forgotten swept from memory and relegated to the unmarked, unsought graves
where their remains lie unacknowledged all over the South."
McGhee Larkin, February 2016