THE STORY OF LOVE
While China Galland was visiting family in rural East Texas, she learned of Love Cemetery-a nearly 175-year-old African American burial ground-from the cemetery guardian, Mrs. Nuthel Britton. For forty years, Love Cemetery was inaccessible, starting with a lockout at the height of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's. Galland's ensuing response to aid in Mrs. Britton's quest to reclaim the ground and return access to the descendants of the buried unearths racial wounds that have never completely healed.
A story of tremendous hope, LOVE CEMETERY: Unburying the Secret History of Slaves (HarperOne; June 2008; Paperback; $14.95) serves as a model for countrywide racial reconciliation. As this racially mixed community pulls together for a cause, they discover each other's common dignity and realize that death is the great leveler-and so is love.
UPDATE: The documentary Resurrecting Love: The Cemetery That Can Heal a Nation documents the powerful racial conflict over the right to visit cemeteries and to know your ancestors. This work in progress follows two women, one black, one white, as they rally the community to fight a large timber corporation and in the process change the face of Texas history. Resurrecting Love shows us how a diverse group of people can come together to heal the deep racial divisions that still threaten to tear our country apart. Learn more at resurrectinglove.org
The film grew out of China Galland's book, Love Cemetery, Unburying the Secret History of Slaves (HarperOne). The book ignited a controversy over people being able to get into cemeteries throughout Texas and set off an investigation by the State Attorney General's Office. As a consequence, new legislation was passed making it a criminal offense to deny people reasonable access to cemeteries in Texas. Nonetheless, this widespread problem continues in Texas and across the U.S. today.