Grant to finance documentaries on Macedonian cemetery, Johns Creek

JOHNS CREEK, GA – Several members of the Johns Creek Student Leadership Class of 2023 will become Documentary Personalities in the coming year thanks to a recently awarded grant in Georgia Humanities.

Student Leadership Johns Creek worked with the Johns Creek Historical Society and Mercer University to apply for the grant. This alliance will work on four videos that will be shown to residents at a question-and-answer event in Johns Creek and then at a reception at Mercer University. The videos will be used by educators in the future across Georgia. The grant is titled, “They Were Here: Preservation and Commemoration of Johns Creek Macedonian African Methodist Church Cemetery.

Four groups from the Johns Creek Student Leadership class of 2023 will each create one of the videos as part of their community group assignment. The project will involve the student-led research and production of four documentaries that focus on different aspects of the history of the Cemetery and Johns Creek.

According to Student Leadership Johns Creek Executive Director, Irene Sanders, “We see this as an incredible opportunity for our student leaders to merge the past with the future; to learn and articulate what has happened in history as they move towards their future ”.

The first documentary will highlight the history of the cemetery and the historical context of slavery and racial segregation from reconstruction until the 20th century.

The second documentary will highlight the heritage of the Cherokee and how the lives of local farmers of Cherokee descent were linked to those of the black residents who were buried in the cemetery.

The third film will focus on April Waters, a notable resident of Johns Creek who is buried in the cemetery. For years, scholars and residents alike assumed Waters was a female slave who was freed upon the death of her master. However, genealogy has discovered that Waters was a man who was not released in accordance with his master’s will. This documentary will highlight the implementation of historical methods required when examining the accuracy of documents when constructing a historical narrative.

The fourth film will focus on the living descendants of those buried in the Macedonian cemetery. Interviews with community members will highlight the founding of the cemetery, its neglect, Jim Crow’s impact on the African American community, and the community’s efforts to revitalize this space as a civil rights sanctuary for people. Multigenerational and diverse residents of Johns Creek.


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