New open-air museum opens at historic Southport African American Cemetery

SOUTHPORT, NC (WECT) – A ribbon cut will be held for a new interpretive outdoor museum at the historic John N. Smith Cemetery on Saturday, October 16 at 10 a.m.

The open-air museum will celebrate the history and contributions of the Black community in Southport and the surrounding area.

According to a press release, the cemetery is a burial place for nearly 2,000 African Americans who represent a vital part of the collective cultural history of the Cape Fear River region.

Founded in 1880, the cemetery is the burial site of more than 1,725 ​​African Americans, including slaves, farmers, teachers, business owners, workers in the fishing industry, housewives and veterans dating from the Civil War to later military campaigns.

A group of volunteers worked on the restoration of the cemetery and new signage, safer walkways, exhibits and improvements make the site more attractive as a community asset to encourage civic engagement.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the Orton Foundation provided grants for the open-air museum and renovations.

Click here for more information on the cemetery which is located at 225 E. Leonard Street, Southport, across from Lowe White Park.

Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.

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