On Saturday, February 22, 2020 a historic event was held behind the gated New Jerusalem Cemetery to honor the enslaved African Americans buried in unmarked graves recently discovered. This was the fourth Annual Day of Remembrance and Wreath Laying Ceremony held in Effingham County. The nameless, faceless, countless but not forgotten souls are situated about 28ft outside of the manicured and well kept cemetery.
At the event libations were poured for the oppressed, enslaved and discarded after going through the Maafa, which means “a terrible ordeal”—Black Holocaust.
A mixed crowd of the Effingham community attended the thought-provoking ceremony. Prayers were given not only for those who had suffered and passed on but for a better future in race relations.
Community and church leaders from Savannah to Atlanta traveled to Effingham to be a part of this historic event.
Also remembered were the hundreds of nameless African American men, women and children who drowned in the icy waters of Ebenezer Creek on December 9, 1864 after the Union Army removed the pontoon bridge preventing the formerly enslaved from crossing. As Confederate troops approached panic set in among those who fled the plantation emancipating themselves without asking for permission—self determination. Fearing the Confederates, hundreds of African Americans jumped into the freezing Ebenezer Creek attempting to swim to the other side where the Union soldiers were. Many drowned. Many were killed by Confederate troops while others were rounded up and returned to their plantation prison work farms.
There was the annual wreath laying ceremony to honor those African Americans who had been so abused, oppressed, robbed of their dreams, lives used up in toil and then buried in unmarked graves.
In the final analysis, this event was well-needed, very positive for all communities and a breath of fresh air. As stated during the ceremony, “You can’t fix what you won’t face.”
The organizer of the event was Mr. Leroy Lloyd, Chair of the Effingham branch of the NAACP.