USC Aiken Prof, Students Partner with Community for Fall Clean-Up

October 09, 2017

University of South Carolina Aiken students and one professor in the Department of Biology and Geology joined forces with members of the community to take part in the annual Pine Lawn Cemetery Fall Clean-Up.

The cemetery, which was established in 1852, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2014 a historical marker was unveiled to recognize this distinction and the importance of the cemetery.

Originally known as the Aiken Colored Cemetery, it was the only public burial ground for blacks for approximately a century, from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s.

For the last ten years, Dr. Andy Dyer has worked with the Pine Lawn Committee.

“I started working on my own to clean up and identify stones for a research project and then met Coleen Reed and James Holland who were working to clean it up and make it more dignified,” Dyer said.

The effort has grown to now include USC Aiken students, retired military members, South Aiken Navy Junior ROTC students, and active community members. The volunteers pruned trees, cut grass and cleaned up the grounds of the historic location.

The clean-up effort is just part of Dyer’s connection to the property, located between Hampton Avenue and Florence Street.

“I’m still collecting research information for [the Pine Lawn Committee] that I hope will be used for the African-American History Museum,” he said.

USC Aiken, a comprehensive university in the University of South Carolina system, offers undergraduate and master’s degrees to more than 3,500 students in 50 programs of study. USC Aiken is ranked the #1 public regional college in the South by U.S. News & World Report’s guide "America’s Best Colleges." The 2018 distinction marks USC Aiken’s 20th consecutive ranking among the top three in this category and its 13th time in first place.