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News from the Corhaven Graveyard!


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Desmond Tutu, director of South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission – the court-like entity set up after apartheid that used restorative justice as a tool for revealing past wrongdoing in the hope of resolving festering conflict, reminds us “True forgiveness deals with the past, all of the past, to make the future possible. We cannot go on nursing grudges even vicariously for those who cannot speak for themselves any longer. We have to accept that what we do we do for generations past, present, and yet to come. That is what makes a community a community or a people a people – for better or for worse.”

Corhaven Graveyard is part of a community. The Shenandoah Valley, where a bulk of the American Civil War was fought in the 1860s, contains communities that were ravaged by war and prejudice – a battle that still lingers in the unresolved conflict that occurred. Here, trucks with confederate flags wave double-edged messages of southern pride and support of states rights – to choose slavery deliberately forgotten. Here, bigoted innuendos and remarks still percolate through the threadbare veil of societal civility. Here, Corhaven Graveyard stands as one of the only African American memorials in Shenandoah County – a sacred space that welcomes people to experience healing and hope.

What healing and hope happened at Corhaven Graveyard in 2018? We may never know the full extent of how Corhaven Graveyard impacts its visitors, but here’s a look at what we offered:
– Community Movie Nights – Hidden Figures in January and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in February
– On-line Book Club – February through June, people across the country read together and discussed The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson – the epic story of America’s Great Migration from the perspective of three unique African American citizens. In addition, many in the group visited Kara Walker’s exhibit, “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War” at the SAAM, Fort Heritage Trail & Museum, Alexandria Black History Museum, and the Freedom House. The associated study guide is freely available for your use on our website under Resources / Book Studies.
– On-site Tours and Community Presentations to many non-profit organizations, local high school and college classes, and other groups and individuals. Here is a testimonial: “Thank you very much for making our recent class field trip to Corhaven so meaningful and memorable. Your presentation was well organized and content-rich, and your obvious passion for honoring the lives of people who’d experienced profound injustice was inspiring.” To read more testimonials, visit our website under Connect / Testimonials.
– Work Days – Northern Shenandoah Valley master gardeners with the local Virginia Extension Office continue to volunteer their time maintaining the graveyard, which lies on a slope in a riparian buffer. This means, we work to incorporate sustainable and environmentally-friendly gardening practices, erosion control, and the planting of native perennials for the promotion of a healthy habitat. You’ll also find a nationally-registered monarch butterfly way station in the tribute space at Corhaven. Community members and groups are invited to schedule a work day, too!
– Partnerships – Corhaven Graveyard participated in Coming to the Table’s national gathering in June 2018, as well as partnered with CTTT’s Northern Shenandoah Valley chapter and Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project for a Memorial Day event associated with the book club.
– Multimedia – Carolyn Findler, an artist based in Front Royal, VA, completed a commissioned watercolor painting of Corhaven Graveyard. This image will be incorporated into the website and media in 2019. Look for a chance to see this artwork during a Corhaven retreat. In May 2019, Rutgers University Press will be publishing Slavery’s Descendants: Shared Legacies of Race and Reconciliation, which will include a chapter about Corhaven Graveyard. This anthology addresses the shared legacy of racism and slavery in the U.S. told through the collected stories of descendants of enslaved people and enslavers. [Use code 02AAAA17 for a 30% discount.]

Corhaven Graveyard is part of a community. The slave cemetery, a forgotten legacy until Bill & Tara Haley rediscovered it almost ten years ago, is left to those willing to care for it. Will you be part of this mission, too? Corhaven Graveyard is a legacy of healing and hope for past, present, and future generations. Together, we can continue to promote racial reconciliation.

B E   P A R T   O F   T H E   C O M M U N I T Y ,   T O O

Consider setting up a special time for your group to work together at the graveyard with the guidance of master gardeners; participate in a movie night; join the Corhaven Graveyard Book Club; or contact the director of Corhaven Graveyard about other opportunities. Here are scheduled events for the first quarter of 2019:

– SATURDAY, JANUARY 12, 5-8 PM: Enjoy a cozy fire, popcorn, and a free movie in Corhaven’s woodshop. Friends, this month’s movie is “Race” (2016) – a sports drama about gold-medalist Jesse Owens (PG-13). Circle process discussion concludes the evening. RSVP

– MONDAY, JANUARY 21, 1-3 PM  Work day at Corhaven Graveyard with local master gardeners. This is a meaningful way to spend part of your MLK, Jr weekend. Weather permitting; hot tea & snacks in the woodshop afterwards.RSVP

– FEBRUARY 2018: Online book club begins reading Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, Professor of History and International Relations and Founding Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington DC, as well as an ideas columnist at The Atlantic. Corhaven Graveyard Book Club selects a larger book to read and discuss over the course of several months. Stamped from the Beginning, a National Book Award winner, uses the life stories of five American intellectuals (Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Angela Davis) to chronicle the entire story of anti-black racist ideas over the course of American history. The online book club is open to anyone interested in being part of this respectful dialogue. Opportunities for occasional in-person meetings via community events will be offered. RSVP

– SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 10 AM – 4 PM: Journey to Justice Seminar at Restoration Anglican Church in Arlington, VA, with Jim Melson & Bill Haley.

– MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 10 AM – 12 PM: Work day at Corhaven Graveyard with local master gardeners. Weather permitting; hot tea & light lunch in the woodshop afterwards. RSVP

– SATURDAY, MARCH 9, 5-8 PM: Enjoy a cozy fire, popcorn, and a free movie in Corhaven’s woodshop. Friends, March’s movie is “I Am Not Your Negro” (2016) – a documentary based on James Baldwin’s unfinished novel,Remember This House, that tells the story of race in America (PG-13). Circle process discussion concludes the evening. RSVP

– SATURDAY, APRIL 13 – SUNDAY, APRIL 14 Coracle’s Race in VA Pilgrimage with a special Palm Sunday service at Corhaven Graveyard. This two-day pilgrimage has you walk the Kidnapping Route of Solomon Northup (a free African American kidnapped and sold into slavery for 12 years prior to the American Civil War), visit The Freedom House in Alexandria, experience Richmond’s Slavery Trail and the Slavery at Monticello tour – all woven together with thought-provoking activities and meaningful dialogue.

– FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 1-3 PM Work day at Corhaven Graveyard with local master gardeners. Weather permitting; hot tea & light lunch in the woodshop afterwards. RSVP

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