Pauli Murray Project to Hold Ceremony at Historic Fitzgerald Cemetery May 28

The Pauli Murray Family
The Pauli Murray Family

The Pauli Murray Project will host its annual Memorial Day ceremony at Maplewood Cemetery on May 28, from 10 a.m. -12 noon. This free, public event will honor two African American Civil War veterans, Robert G. and Richard B. Fitzgerald and the 112 African Americans buried in the Historic Fitzgerald Family Cemetery.

The cemetery is located at the corner of Kent Street and Morehead Avenue. Free parking is available one block south courtesy of First Calvary Baptist Church.

The ceremony will include a presentation of the colors by the Hillside High School Junior ROTC Honor Guard, an offering of libations by Dr. Victor Maafo, remarks from members of the Fitzgerald family and a reading of the names of the departed.

This event was started by Fitzgerald family members in 1995 as a way of calling attention to their family burial site and to support their efforts to convince the City of Durham to annex it to the adjacent Maplewood Cemetery.

Robert Fitzgerald was Pauli Murray's grandfather and a prominent educator and brick maker who came to Durham after the Civil War to teach newly freed African Americans. His brother Richard followed, and they started their brick making business together.

Robert was not able to continue because of an injury suffered during his service on behalf of the Union Army but Richard's business flourished. His bricks were in the construction of Erwin Cotton Mill and many local tobacco warehouses. Richard Fitzgerald was one of the founders and first president of Mechanics and Farmers Bank. Both brothers were Union soldiers in the Civil War.

After the ceremony, guests will tour over to the Robert Fitzgerald/Pauli Murray House, located at 906 Carroll Street. There, spoken word artist Kimberly McCrae will perform at the reception.

The event is co-sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, Preservation Durham, the Fitzgerald/Murray family and Habitat for Humanity of Durham. Free parking is available courtesy of First Calvary Baptist Church on Kent Street just south of Morehead Avenue.