Habari gani, Friends of Bethel Burying Ground Coalition:
There is public service at the Bethel Burying Ground at Weccacoe Playground in the four-hundred block of Catherine Street (Catherine and Lawrence) on Saturday March 29, 2014. The service will involve a cultural libation ceremony honoring the ancestors and reestablishing spiritual continuity along with the offering of prayers from an ecumenical group of religious leaders. It will begin promptly at 1:00 p.m. Traditional attire is encouraged and welcomed.
This will be the first public recognition of Bethel Burying Ground as an historic site of rediscovery and renewal of our efforts to claim our history. We welcome everyone who comes to honor the ancestors buried there.
We will conduct the service on the edge of the boundary of the cemetery. We are not looking for spectacle. We’d like to honor our ancestors in the African Diaspora and pledge our individual support for the eternal protection and preservation of their final resting place. The service should take approximately one hour fifteen minutes.
We will respectfully honor the dead with as little disruption to the immediate neighborhood as possible. This is a dense inner-city area, located in Southwark area of Philadelphia. The neighbors have recently been made aware of the discovery of a major historic site at their local playground. Some have been led to believe that our coalition is at odds with them about the future of this site. That isn’t true; our issue is with the City of Philadelphia for not treating this historic piece of public property with the historic importance a site like this requires.
Even now, the City is reluctant to secure the cemetery and stop further desecration. This administration seemingly would like to see the burial site protected and preserved by the next mayor, rather than doing everything that can be done, as quickly as possible. It has already been three years since the burial site was rediscovered.
Even the application for local certification by the Philadelphia Historical Commission had to be made by the independent historian who discovered the cemetery, because of opposition from folks who want to be the sole arbiter of the site. The neighbors are not our adversaries.
So, the public service of rediscovery, honor and renewal, is meant to reconnect us with the ancestors of the African Diaspora and to honor and pray for their spiritual guidance in protecting and preserving their resting place. This is a demonstration of honor, respect and prayer.
Please assemble just before 1:00 p.m. We will direct you to what very limited parking there will be. We encourage you to arrange for carpooling or to use public transportation. The streets are narrow and parking is almost non-existent. Asante sana.