Friends of Gospel Pilgrim Restoring Historic African-American Cemetery

Friends of Gospel Pilgrim, a UGA student organization, is working to restore a historic African-American cemetery.

Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery was founded in 1882 by The Gospel Pilgrim Society which provided proper burials for African Americans.

When the society dissolved, the cemetery was neglected and became overgrown. President Celia Clark said, “it’s just really upsetting to see how overgrown everything is.”

The property is the resting place of approximately 3,500 people, including some notable figures. Pink Morton, who founded The Morton Theatre downtown, is buried in Gospel Pilgrim, as well as two of Georgia’s first black legislators.

“We’ve really just been doing yard work…mowing some of the paths ’cause there’s a lot of paths going through,” Clark said. She also said the group has sprayed poison ivy with weed eater, cut down dead trees and cleaned up some of the grave sites.

Restorations from the Friends of Gospel Pilgrim have made some of the paths clearer for visitors, but Clark said there’s still more to be done.

“We have a lot more to do…just ’cause the cemetery is so huge and goes back pretty, pretty far,” she said.

Frances Sims, an Athens resident who lives close to the cemetery, said she appreciates the work the group has done so far.

“People have been really good about coming and being compliant with what they do. The area never looked so nice,”Sims said.

Friends of Gospel Pilgrim hopes to start giving tours soon. They will have their next service day at the cemetery on Nov. 3, if you would like to help.

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