Art and Documentary Photography - Loading Rest-With-Honor-Black-Family.jpg
lauri lyons
Nov 14, 2022

The impossible is always possible. On November 10, 2022, the Savannah City Council in Georgia unanimously voted to remove John C. Calhoun’s name from one of the City’s historic squares. The vote represents a triumphant victory for the enslaved and free Black people buried beneath the square, their descendants living throughout the African Diaspora, and the people who support democracy and racial justice in America. 

All the secrets of the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight. In July 2020, I began to formally research and investigate the existence of the Old Negro Burying Ground and its surrounding history. During the research process, I learned the 258-year-old unmarked burial ground does exist and is located in Savannah’s Historic Downtown District, surrounded by landmarked buildings. 

The truth is always revealed. The Old Negro Burying Ground is partially located, beneath Calhoun Square and Whitefield Square. John C. Calhoun was an infamous politician who vehemently advocated for slavery and organized acts of genocide against Black and Indigenous people. Calhoun’s racist philosophies laid the groundwork for the American Civil War and continues to influence America’s social and political discourse today. Rev. George Whitefield was a religious icon, slave owner, and prolific lobbyist for legalizing slavery in Georgia.

It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit. In August 2020, I launched a petition  to remove Calhoun’s name from the square. The petition was an act of faith that led me to found the Rest With Honor Savannah Initiative, which gathered petition signatures and created public awareness and programs about the burial ground, John C. Calhoun and Rev. George Whitefield. 

Amid darkness, light persists. This journey has not been easy or pleasant. It has been an extraordinary experience that catalyzed transformation for the ancestors, myself and the City of Savannah. A shift in consciousness and policy has occurred. Mission accomplished! 

THANK YOU for your petition signatures, encouragement, and participation. Please continue to support my work with the Rest With Honor Project and organization. The best is yet to come!  
  Best Wishes, 
 Lauri Lyons 

Lauri Lyons Creative Media

Lauri Lyons is a photographer, editor and the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the online publication Nomads Magazine.
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