CONVENT, LA (WAFB) - A special memorial service and dedication was held to commemorate the lives of the enslaved people who were buried in the Bruslie Plantation Cemetery and the Monroe Plantation Cemetery.
"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," said Kathe Hambrick, founder of the River Road African American Museum.
The event was held on Saturday, March 24 at the Shell Convent refinery.
The two cemeteries that were at the heart of the event were discovered during a 2013 survey of the Shell property, which is in Ascension Parish.
"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," states a press release.
As many as 100 plantations produced sugar in Ascension Parish during the antebellum period, officials estimate.
"These burial grounds are unique in scope," said 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."
Markers have been placed and Shell partnered with the River Road African American Museum to have the graves preserved and protected.
"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 sounds interred within them," said Hugues Bourgogne, Shell's General Manager of the Convent refinery. "It is a perfect example of Shell's core value of respect for people."