DURHAM--A historic cemetery filled with slaves and the children of slaves became a site for celebration on Saturday.

Community members came to Geer Cemetery to mark the anniversary of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. Geer buried black residents from 1877 to 1944, when the city of Durham shut it down.

Mayor Bill Bell and Councilman Eddie Davis were among the people to come to the ceremony. They said it is important to honor Durham's past and that many who laid the foundation for the city's black community are laid to rest in Geer.

"You walk where other people have walked and ultimately were laid to rest," said Bell. "It means a lot to me and it should mean a lot to this community."

"So many times I look at these names when I'm out here and I look at the dates when they were born," added Davis. "I try to imagine what it was like to live in Durham in 1821."

Among the notable residents buried in Geer are Augustus Shepard, father of NC Central University founder James Shepard, and Edian Markham, a former slave who founded St. Joseph's AME Church in Durham.