The fifth annual wreath laying ceremony at the African American Burial Ground for the Enslaved at Belmont on Sunday showed continued work to memorialize the people buried there and open the site up to visitors.
Since last year’s ceremony, new trails and signs, a new entranceway, and the beginnings of a replica schoolhouse have appeared at the site, work led by Boy Scouts including Mikaeel Martinez Jaka. His Eagle Scout project laid down the first gravel trail and benches through the site.
Many people interred at the long long-neglected burial ground were enslaved at the nearby Belmont and Coton plantations—today’s Belmont Country Club and Lansdowne on the Potomac neighborhoods.
Under leadership from Michelle Thomas, the Loudoun Freedom Center worked to develop permanent protections for the land. The property, at the southeast corner of the Rt. 7/Belmont Ridge Road intersection, was threatened by development and was listed among Preservation Virginia’s list of Most Endangered Historic Places.
Sunday’s ceremony was led by Thomas and the center’s executive director, Leesburg Town Councilman Ron Campbell.
“I don’t know about you, but never before have I seen so much change, so quickly, so important, in Loudoun County, and so I’m proud of the work that we do here at the Loudoun Freedom Center,” Thomas said.