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Unmarked graves to be re-consecrated
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Now that nearly 400 unmarked graves have been found in Covington's cemeteries - many of them believed to belong to slaves - the local African-American Historical Association believes its time to remember and re-consecrate them.

The society is sponsoring two ceremonies Saturday; the first at 11 a.m. at Southview Cemetery with the second to follow at 2 p.m. at Westview Cemetery.

More than 300 unmarked graves were found in Southview Cemetery along the portion next to East Street, and more than 75 graves were found in Westview Cemetery at the end of West Street where it meets Hendrix Circle. Len Strozier, a former pastor and owner of Omega Mapping Services, found the graves using ground-penetrating radar.

Several speakers and local officials will attend the ceremonies, including a group of local priests and priestesses, originally from Trinidad, who will perform libations for the slaves, said Forrest Sawyer Jr., president of the local historical society. A libation is a ritual pouring of a drink as an offering in memory of those who have died.

"We will gather in prayerful remembrance of our honored foremothers and forefathers to re-consecrate these hallowed burial grounds," Sawyer said.

Lottie Johnson, former home economist of Newton County and mother of Judge Horace Johnson, will explain the purpose of the re-consecration. Rev. Harold Cobb will be the event's religions speaker.

Professor Mark Auslander, an expert on local African-American history, worked with several students in 2009 to research old deeds of African-American cemeteries. Both he and one of those interns will share remarks, and Emogene Williams, another local historian who used to visit the cemeteries as child, will give her reflections on the Southview Cemetery.

Mayor Carter and other Covington council members will also be invited to share remarks; the city paid for the mapping of the unmarked graves and the metal disc markers that ensure the spots won't be forgotten in the future.

For further information contact Sawyer at (770) 788-0792 or