The River Road African Burial Grounds Coalition, Shell, and the Burial Grounds Committee of the River Road African American Museum (RRAAM) will co-host a commemorative program honoring the lives of the enslaved people buried in the Bruslie Plantation Cemetery and the Monroe Plantation Cemetery on Saturday, March 24 at 10 a.m.

The memorial service and marker dedication will take place at the Shell Convent refinery, on the lawn of the former Tezcuco Plantation in Darrow, La.

The Bruslie and Monroe Cemeteries were discovered during a 2013 survey of Shell’s property in Ascension Parish near the company’s Convent refinery. After the discovery, Shell commissioned an archeological and genealogical study, which determined that as many as one thousand enslaved people are interred in unmarked graves in these burial grounds.

In 2017, the RRAAM, led by Founder Kathe Hambrick, members of the descendant community, and Shell formed a partnership to preserve, protect, and acknowledge these slave cemeteries, which hold cultural significance for Louisiana and the United States.

“These burial grounds are unique in scope,” says Hambrick. “They reveal information about how enslaved people lived in the past. They allow the descendant community today to make connections with family heritage. They shed light where recorded history has been silent. While historical accounts of plantation owners are readily accessible, much remains unknown about the lives of the thousands of people who were enslaved along the River Road.”

This partnership with industry, the museum and the descendant community is a decisive step in acknowledging the contribution of the enslaved to the economy and culture of the parish, the state and the nation.

“Shell is honored to partner with the River Road African American Museum and the descendent community to recognize and remember those interred in the Bruslie and Monroe Cemeteries,” says Hugues Bourgogne, Shell’s General Manager of the Convent refinery. “We see this as not only an investment in the physical beautification and preservation of these burial grounds, but also as an affirmation of our commitment to the culture of this region and the historical significance of these cemeteries and the souls interred within them. It is a perfect example of Shell’s core value of respect for people.”

It is estimated that as many as one hundred plantations produced sugar in Ascension Parish during the antebellum period with slave labor, which created a powerful concentration of wealth that contributed significantly to the economy of our nation. The March 24 memorial service is by invitation only.

Contributed by RRAAM