If These Stones Could Talk: African American Presence in the Hopewell Valley, Sourland Mountain and Surrounding Regions of New Jersey (Paperback)
Cemeteries have stories to tell, voices to unearth--and lessons from the past that we can draw upon to better shape the future. If These Stones Could Talk brings fresh light to a forgotten corner of American history that begins in a small cemetery in central New Jersey.
Authors of If These Stones Could Talk Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills started their journey through the past as two middle aged African American women with busy but quiet lives. They were both board members of the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association, a cemetery that is nestled in New Jersey's Sourland Mountain region. The cemetery was purchased by three Black men in the early 19th century to bury Blacks with honor and dignity.
When Buck and Mills got an unexpected call for help, what began as a search through the woods for gravestone markers soon had them rummaging through land deeds and making relentless calls to state officials, archeologists and reporters. Their foray into historic preservation work convinced Buck and Mills that they had a lot more work left to do to connect African American history to local and national history books--within which they still felt largely absent from the most visible narratives in United States history.
In warm but unflinching voices authors Buck and Mills offer readers a unique window into our past. These stories, including dozens of oral histories, consecrate the collected lives of a minority Black community in a predominantly White region, a pattern of community that reflects a larger, deeply important but typically overlooked national story in small towns all over the United States.