The Mount Zion Cemetery-Washington DC


Mt. Zion Cemetery
Photo courtesy of Mira Courpas

The Mount Zion Cemetery is composed of two separate adjacent cemeteries, the old Methodist Burying Ground and the Female Union Band Society Graveyard. The two cemeteries equally share the three acres of land. There is no fence or other visible demarcation separating the two cemeteries which over time have become known as the Mount Zion Cemetery. The Mount Zion Cemetery is a physical reminder of African American life and the evolving free black culture in the District of Columbia from the earliest days of the city to the present.

The land for the Old Methodist Episcopal Burying Ground was purchased in 1808 by the Dumbarton Street Methodist Episcopal Church. The membership of the Dumbarton Street M.E. Church was fifty percent black, consisting of both free blacks and slaves. At the time, Georgetown was about thirty percent African American. In 1816 the black members of the Dumbarton Street M.E. Church formed the Mount Zion Methodist Church. Eventually the Mount Zion Methodist Church took over the cemetery in 1879. The Female Union Band Society was a cooperative benevolent society of free black women whose members were pledged to assist one another in sickness and in death. The society was created in 1842 and purchased the land for the burial ground that year. Mt. Zion Cemetery illustrates the significant contribution of African Americans to the development of Georgetown and the work of an early benevolent society organized by black women for their own benefit. The cemetery fell into neglect and disrepair until 1976 when volunteer workers under the direction of the Afro-American Bicentennial Corporation cleared away underbrush, trash, and ground cover.

The Mount Zion Cemetery is located at 27th and Q Sts, NW. The cemetery is open daily during daylight hours, to arrange for a tour contact Mt. Zion Church at 202-234-0148. Metro stop: Foggy Bottom