Recently I decided to take my newly purchased camera on a trip through the past. The city of St. Louis is full of history, culture and in so many ways significant to the people of the community.
If only we would open our eyes, hearts and minds we could take advantage of it. In this case my camera lens is my eye and I’m allowing my mind to be opened enough to not only see the story of our people but hear what it is they want us to know about our history. We are a people filled with strength, wisdom and resilience.
The photos included in this post are from African American cemeteries that where established as early as 1886, (however in conducting my research I learned of the First Baptist Church cemetery located in Chesterfield that was established in 1868, not included in this post.) Greenwood, Washington Park, the Historical Quinette and Father Dickson Cemeteries are all located within the St. Louis and surrounding communities.
My inspiration to tour these lands came while in attendance at a lecture recently held at the Missouri History Museum. I don’t proclaim to be a professional photographer however please allow yourself to interpret these photos as you see fit. It’s important to share our history with our youth so they understand who we are as a people and never forget that. Knowledge is power. We can’t depend on others to teach us our history, we have to teach ourselves.
Father Dickson cemetery is home to prominent African American men like James Milton Turner, the first former slave to be appointed to represent the United States in a foreign country. Father Dickson is also the home to countless others like John Vashon who served in the St. Louis Public Schools for 34 years. He was such a dedicated man, Vashon High School is named in his honor. He was known for helping to organize a YMCA for African Americans. Father Moses Dickson, who the cemetery is named after was an Abolitionist who traveled the South, organizing a secret anti-slavery organization known as the Knights of Liberty.
*All photos in this post are taken by Erica R. Van Buren