MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A major piece of Memphis history will be celebrated Thursday night. The Eight Annual Zion Community Project's Annual Fundraising Dinner is scheduled for tonight at seven o'clock at the National Civil Rights Museum. The event benefits the Zion Christian Cemetery on South Parkway.
Several city and county officials, along with volunteers and bishops with the CME Church are scheduled to be in attendance, according to Dr. Tyrone T. Davis, president of the Zion Community Project Board of Directors.
WREG-TV President and General Manager Ron Walter will be the keynote speaker addressing the cemetery's importance to the city's history, especially in the African-American community.
According the Zion Community Project's website, many historical events are associated with this cemetery. During the yellow fever epidemic of 1878, numerous black victims were buried there. While most white citizens left the city, many African-Americans stayed behind to care for the sick, and the Pallbearers Association of the United Sons of Zion helped prevent looting and maintain order.
Zion Cemetery is also the burial-place of Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell and William Stewart who were victims of the 1892 lynchings that inspired the international anti-lynching crusade of Ida B. Wells, editor and owner of the Memphis newspaper Freedom of Speech.
In addition, the cemetery is the resting place of numerous African-American citizens whose achievements contributed greatly to local, state and national history. Many others are buried there whose names are not well-known or have been lost, but who are nonetheless deserving of our respect and gratitude.
For more information about Zion Community Project, you can click the link below to a video produced by Beverly Robinson, former president of the National Civil Rights Museum and Fabian Matthews of Spotlight Productions:
After many decades of use, Zion Cemetery fell into disuse and became overgrown with vegetation. The Zion Cemetery Project works to clear the cemetery and maintain this important Memphis heritage location, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1990.
Awards will also be handed out tonight during the Zion Community Project’s Annual Fundraising Dinner.
WREG's Alex Coleman is the emcee.