Group pushes for second African American historic landmark in Statesville

A group in Statesville is pushing for a cemetery to be added as an African American historic landmark on the state’s national register.

“Even in death, we as a people cannot be recognized or respected,” Statesville resident Patricia Mauney said. “And that’s the whole thing with wanting the landmark for Statesville.”

Mauney has family buried in Green Street Cemetery, which is already recognized as the oldest cemetery in Statesville.

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Right now, the only Statesville landmark listed on the state register for African American historic landmarks is Mount Pleasant A.M.E. Zion Church, which is around the corner from the cemetery. Resident Donald Ivey said the church was named a historical monument in 1980.

“It has been a cornerstone in this community,” Ivey said.

Ivey and fellow resident Lisa Mozer are among those asking the state to add the cemetery to the register.

“Also to make it a memorial that people will want to visit and stand on the very ground as some of the first African Americans that arrived here with the settlers,” Mozer said.

“The rich history is prominent. Blacks are buried here. I have family members here,” Mauney said.

“My dad’s mother is here. Her name is Esy McKee Patterson,” she added.

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It’s hard to pinpoint where those gravesites are because of the current conditions of the cemetery, but Mauney holds on to a list to help her keep track.

Mozer said there are several busted tombstones at the cemetery.

“I never met my grandmother, but to know that she’s here -- and then you look at the conditions of how it is,” Mozer said.

She said it’s time to protect, restore and preserve the sacred site.

“We want to be that showcase that -- every visitor and local person knows Statesville to be a historic city, and it is a diverse city, a diverse culture, and we want to make sure that we are included,” Mozer said.

At the end of the month, the group will work with the Ground Penetrating Radar service. The city will learn who is buried in the Green Street Cemetery, and that research will go toward applying for state recognition.

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