Dozens gathered Sunday afternoon, November 6, 2016 to honor the memory of enslaved people who were buried at a cemetery just off of Route 7 and Belmont Ridge Road in Loudoun County.
Stopping to recall some history of two neighboring plantations, and the road people traveled between the Belmont and Coton plantations.
"Be very careful, we will be walking into the woods," historian Eugene Scheel cautioned the group as they approached the sloping up to the unmarked cemetery. The area sits next to an area currently under development.
Schell and Pastor Michelle Thomas dropped kernels of history during the brief walking tour between the former Coton and Belmont plantations.
Thomas pastors the congregation at Holy and Whole Life Changing Ministries In Leesburg. She is part of a team that's working to preserve the cemetery.
"History belongs to those that are careful enough to preserve it," she told the group. "if we do not preserve this history we will lose it," she added.
Names of more than 100 slaves were uncovered after at least 100 hours spent looking through wills, deeds, judgements and inventory lists, Thomas said.
Once at the cemetery there were Songs, prayers, a poem and several children read names of the enslaved who once on the Coton and Belmont plantations.
Attendees included representatives from the Christian and Islamic communities.
"A lot of people may not know that 30 percent of enslaved Africans were Muslim. They helped build this country before it was a country," said
Rizwan Jaka of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society.
Alford Carter, III cancelled a trip to Virginia beach to attend the wreath laying ceremony. He recalled trips to the cemetery during his childhood to visit the grave of a man only known as "Ned." "She'd bring flowers, and put the flowers on the grave and that's it," Carter said. "For my mother to take me there, there had to be something there."