Hidden Black History: Calvary Cemetery

One of the reasons I founded this website is I thought history was being forgotten or overlooked. After nearly a decade, I still find myself being surprised — like when I found this information about Calvary Cemetery, an African American Cemetery established in 1929.

It’s another example of how recent institutional racism has existed. A Sept. 17, 2017 report by Columbia Historic Preservation Commission report written by  Deb Sheals notes, “It is the final resting place of notable Columbia businesswoman Annie Fisher, as well as numerous other members of the local African American community.  Other black families represented include the Mitchell, Smith and Rickets families.”

This history may be missed by people because the cemetery has since been absorbed into Memorial Park Cemetery. Perhaps this is why I had never heard of this reminder of Columbia and segregations’s shameful past.

What historical things have you discovered in Columbia that surprised you?

Separate but equal was ruled constitutional in 1896 in the Plessy versus Ferguson U.S. Supreme Court ruling. It meant that non-white community members could be barred from any public place such as schools, theaters, restaurants. In 1954, it overturned in the Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka.

The cemetery at 1217 W. Business Loop 70 was named to the Notable Properties List in 2012.  

But I’m not inclined to say let’s forget this mark on our past. As the sign marking Columbia’s last public lynching, we need to remember, lest we forget .

2 Comments Add yours

  1. 64kewpie says:

    A friend from my youth, Frankie Williams, is buried at Calvary Cemetery. In the early ’60’s segregation was still evident in many places. As Frankie was Black and I was White it was an anomaly that he asked me to play in his band as the only White member. Frankie exposed me to his world, demonstrating by his actions that skin color should not matter. 99% of the Black venues we played were as accepting of me as he was. When one club manager refused to let me in because of my skin color Frankie defended me and refused to play there. He died in head-on collision on Valentine Day, 1965. He had just turned twenty-one in January.

    Less we forget.

    1. diannaobrien says:

      Thanks for your comment! These memories are exactly the kind I hope to capture and share with this website!
      Thanks for sharing your CoMo History here!

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