Welcome to the Zion Community Project!

photoLocated on the north side of the 1400 block of S. Parkway East, Zion Christian Cemetery is the oldest African American cemetery in Memphis, Tenn. There are probably more than 30,000 people buried in these 15 acres.

It was established in 1876 by the United Sons of Zion, a black fraternal and benevolent organization. Many historical events are associated with this cemetery. During the yellow fever epidemic of 1878, numerous black victims were buried here. While most white citizens left the city, many African Americans stayed behind to care for the sick, and the Pallbearers Association of the United Sons of Zion helped prevent looting and maintain order.

photoZion Cemetery is also the burial place of the three black merchants (Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell and William Stewart) who were victims of the 1892 lynchings that inspired the international anti-lynching crusade of Ida B. Wells, editor and owner of the Memphis newspaper Freedom of Speech.

In addition, the cemetery is the resting place of numerous black citizens whose achievements contributed greatly to local, state and national history. Many others are buried there whose names are not well known or have been lost but who are nonetheless deserving of our respect and gratitude.

After many decades of use, Zion Cemetery fell into disuse and became overgrown with vegetation. The Zion Cemetery Project works to clear the cemetery and maintain this important Memphis heritage location, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1990.



Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area LogoThis project receives funding from the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, a partnership unit of the National Park Service that is administered by the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University.


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