Late African American leaders from Columbus were celebrated at Sandfield Cemetery

MSMS students took the stage to showcase the research they've done on former leaders and other prominent figures from the friendly city

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Sandfield Cemetery is the resting place of many Columbus’s earliest black leaders, and as the community recognizes the Eighth of May Emancipation Day, students from the Mississippi School for Math and Science remember some of those buried there.

“Sandfield cemetery is the oldest African American cemetery in the city of Columbus and a lot of 19th and early 20th century leaders in the black community are buried here,” said MSMS history teacher Chuck Yarbrough.

Yarbrough and a group of his students organize an Eighth of May Emancipation Day celebration to highlight some of the city’s key African American leaders.

“There’s probably a whole generation or two that do not know many of the black leaders that have evolved in this community whether it was during the reconstruction period or contemporary period and I think they have to understand that they didn’t arrive where they are simply because of somebody’s gratitude,” said Columbus’ district 5 supervisor Leroy Brooks.

District 5 supervisor Leroy Brooks says he’s seen the transformation of the Sandfield Community over the years, but he credits Yarbrough and other members in Columbus for helping keep the name and history relevant.

“It’s a little different it’s a more transient place it’s a lot of dilapidated houses as in a lot of black communities, but one of the interesting things that’s taken shape is that Jabari Edwards is rebuilding you know he’s built several houses and has a lot more going up,” said Brooks.

Monday evening MSMS students took the stage to showcase the research they’ve done on former leaders and other prominent figures from the friendly city that are now buried in the cemetery.  Yarbrough felt the program not only gives the city a history lesson, but helps the students in life.

“There’s no use in studying the past unless you can make it in fact present, projects like this allow students to research and develop all the skills associated with that to become critical thinkers, but then they also develop their skills of sharing with the community and presenting. Ultimately, they’re developing an ethic of participation and community involvement that I know will turn into an ethic of leadership one day, these kids are our future,” said Yarbrough.

The program ended at 6:45, but Yarbrough said he feels the history will live on.

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