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The photo depicts a natural, overgrown field. There are trees in the background and a bush with small, yellow wildflowers in the foreground. Alongside the bush is a headstone that reads "Williams."
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John M. Olin Library, Level 1, Kagan Grand Stair

Higher Ground

This current physical exhibition for Higher Ground: Honoring Washington Park Cemetery, Its People and Place is a selection of a much larger exhibition that was first shown at the Sheldon Art Galleries in 2017. Visitors may also explore Higher Ground’s digital exhibition.

The history of Washington Park Cemetery, the once largest African American cemetery in the St Louis region, reveals a pattern of practices representing larger, systemic issues of race, politics, and power. The project Higher Ground seeks to honor and make visible the lives of people and the land that has seen both racial injustice and the power of ancestral resiliency.

A grave site with a mother Mary statue standing as a marker. The grave has fresh flowers, but is otherwise in an overgrown location.
A gravesite marker photographed by Professor Jennifer Colten in her documentation of Washington Park Cemetery.

The original physical exhibition was made possible by a 2016 Ferguson Academic Seed Grant that was awarded to Professor Jennifer Colten by the department of Diversity & Inclusion at Washington University. University Archives has original photographic prints and additional material from that exhibition in the Higher Ground: Honoring Washington Park Cemetery Exhibition Collection (WUA00458).

The photo is of the Higher Ground exhibition, which contains seven framed photographs behind glass display cases alongside a stand with the digital exhibition for Higher Ground made available via an iPad.
A view of the Higher Ground: Honoring Washington Park Cemetery, Its People and Place exhibition currently on display in John M. Olin Library.

The photographer for Higher Ground, Professor Jennifer Colten, is a senior lecturer in photography at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. University Archivist Sonya Rooney organized this exhibition.

Header image: Jennifer Colten, WPC. Section 14. [107.9], 1992/ 2017. Photographic print.