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Loudoun Freedom Center to celebrate Belmont Slave Cemetery with weekend events

The Loudoun Freedom Center is once again celebrating the Belmont Slave Cemetery and sharing the stories of those interred with the public.

Loudoun residents will have the opportunity for two African-American history-related events this weekend. On Saturday, the Loudoun Freedom Center will host an information session with William and Mary professor and anthropologist Michael Blakely from 9 a.m. to noon at the Thomas Balch Library. Residents will learn more about the center's Descendants Project at the event and how the LFC works with Blakely on documentation and research.

Then Sunday, the LFC is having its annual wreath laying ceremony and history walk at the Belmont Slave Cemetery. The LFC will lead a group of Loudoun pastors, community leaders, elected officials, local students, historians and history lovers from the D.C. metro region, on a oral history walking tour that will culminate with the Third Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony.

Historic markers made by Loudoun County Public Schools students will illustrate the African-American experience from pre-Civil War, to the enslaved's journey to freedom, to the Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony at the largest known slave cemetery in Loudoun County, LFC founder Pastor Michelle Thomas said.

"Loudoun’s African-American history, communities, cemeteries and cultural artifacts are important national treasures that must be preserved, protected, memorialized, studied and celebrated," Thomas said in a statement. "The Loudoun Freedom Center is committed to honoring the legacy of Loudoun’s unsung heroes and connecting future generations with the rich diverse history, hidden in plain sight. "

Those interested should RSVP for the event.

The ceremony and walking tour will start at the Harris Teeter Parking Lot Lansdowne Town Center, and the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office will provide escorts across Route 7 to and from the parking lot and cemetery during the event.

The event schedule is as follows:

1 p.m. Registration, check-in and meet and greet in the parking lot of the Lansdowne Town Center Harris Teeter
1:15 p.m. Preservation Talk with Dr. Michael Blakey - Saving Our African American Burial Grounds at the French Hound Brasserie in Lansdowne
2 p.m. Processional and walking tour tracing the steps and stops of Loudoun’s enslaved community between the two former Coton and Belmont Plantations
3:15 p.m. Wreath Laying Ceremony at Belmont Slave Cemetery
4 p.m. Recessional


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