To Care for the Sick and Bury the Dead: African American Lodges and Cemeteries in Tennessee

Leigh Ann Gardner

Benevolent Orders, the Sons of Ham, Prince Hall Freemasons—these and other African American lodges created a social safety net for members across Tennessee. During their heyday between 1865 and 1930, these groups provided members with numerous resources, such as sick benefits and assurance of a proper burial, opportunities for socialization and leadership, and the chance to work with local churches and schools to create better communities. Many of these groups gradually faded from existence, but their legacy endures in the form of the cemeteries the lodges left behind.

These Black cemeteries dot the Tennessee landscape, but few know their history or the societies of care they represent. To Care for the Sick and Bury the Dead is the first book-length look at these cemeteries and the lodges that fostered them.

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