Cleanup to Take Place at Giddens Cemetery

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BY JUSTIN TRAUSCH

FOR THE OBSERVER

OPELIKA —

This Saturday, June 11, the public is invited to come out to 2500 Frederick Road in Opelika to help restore and prepare the historic George and Addie Giddens Cemetery for Auburn University’s Research to Preserve African American Stories and Traditions (rPAAST). The cleanup will be held between 9 a.m. and noon with the help of the Lee County Cemetery Preservation Commission. Anyone is welcome to volunteer.

Dr. Robert Bubb, a lecturer and the coordinator of rPAAST at Auburn University, has been organizing and participating in cemetery cleanups in the Auburn/Opelika area for about five years now. He and his research team have helped restore half a dozen cemeteries for the purpose of conducting GPR, or ground-penetrating radar, to better understand the lost history at these historic African American burial sites.

“The history of the cemetery is what I really want to highlight,” he said. “It is the reason we do this work.”

Bubb said he has his own personal connection to this line of work that stays close to his heart. His twice-great grandmother was a pillar of her community in Brenham, Texas, after the emancipation of slavery, but her story and burial site were lost over time. His inability to help with the cemetery restoration in Brenham fueled his passion, and he now regularly checks on about 30 historic African American cemeteries in Lee County.

Work at Giddens Cemetery this Saturday will include raking debris, marking potential field stones, string trimming and hand-clearing the southern border of burial site 3. All are encouraged to bring gloves, rakes, tarps, string trimmers, loppers or any other tools that may be useful in clearing vegetation.

For more information about the cleanup event, contact Bubb at 334-332-0059 or email him at robert.r.bubb@auburn.edu.

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