Every person buried at Woodlawn Cemetery is important to the landscape of the history of Washington DC.We take great pride in honoring the fathers, mothers, brothers, children, sisters, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles interred in these sacred and hallowed grounds. Each was important, each was loved and each is resting in eternity with our ancestors. We would like to highlight a few of the known local and national leaders who are interred at Woodlawn Cemetery.
James Lusk Alcorn was a Republican governor and U.S. Senator during Reconstruction. He served in the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1853 before moving to Mississippi. Alcorn served in the Mississippi House of Representatives and Senate during the 1840s. Alcorn County in Mississippi is named after him, as is Alcorn State University, the first black land grant University.
Blanche Bruce served as a Republican US Senator for Mississippi from 1875 – 1881. He became US Treasury registrar after he left the Senate and was again reappointed to the same position in 1897.
Sterling N. Brown was a religious leader in Washington DC, pastoring Plymouth, Lincoln and Peoples Congressional churches. He later became a professor and leader of the Howard University, School of Religion, remaining there for 31 years. He served for many years on the Board of Education for Colored Schools.
Mary Powell Burrill was an early 20th century African-American playwright and educator. In 1918 two of her best known plays were published. Burrill understood her plays as deliberate acts of political protest advocating racial stances on issues of race and gender.
William Mercer Cook, better known as Will Marion Cook, was an African-American composer and violinist. He is best known for his popular songs and Broadway musicals. He mentored famous black performers such as Eubie Blake and Duke Ellington.
Mary Edna Brown Coleman was one of 22 Founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., She was an educator who taught at the Howard Academy. She died in childbirth and is buried with her baby in Woodlawn. She was the wife of Frank Coleman, a Founder of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
John Wesley Cromwell was a lawyer, teacher, civil servant, journalist, historian, and civil rights activist in Washington, DC. He was among the founders of the Bethel Literary and Historical Society and the American Negro Academy, both based in the capital. He worked for decades in administration of the US Post Office.
John R. Francis was a prominent African American medical practitioner during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was also a distinguished educator. Francis served on several school boards and as a professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He was also an astute businessman in the medical field
John Mercer Langston, in 1888, was elected to the U.S. Congress as the first representative of color from Virginia. After the war, Langston, was appointed Inspector General for the Freedman’s Bureau in 1868, he established and served as Dean of Howard University’s law school. He was appointed acting president of Howard in 1872. He was also the president of Virginia State University. Langston University was named in his honor.
Jesse Lawson was an American lawyer, educator, and activist. He served as an officer of the Afro-American Council, where he promoted racial justice and anti-Jim Crow legislation to the public and before Congress. He was the founder of the National Sociological Society and co-founded Frelinghuysen University, and served as a legal examiner for the Bureau of Pensions for 44 years.
Daniel Alexander Payne Murray joined the professional staff of the Library of Congress in 1871, becoming the second black American to work there. At 19, he became the personal assistant to the Librarian of Congress. By 1881 he became the assistant librarian, a position he held for forty-one years.
Sarah H. Meriwether Nutter, was a teacher in the Washington DC public schools for many years. She was a Founder of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She later became a charter member of Xi Omega Chapter and for a number of years, and was active in creating new chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha, to extend the support the sorority could give to African-American women at college and in community life. She was also active in the NAACP in Charleston, West Virginia.
Marjorie Arizona Hill was one of the original nine founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated's twenty founders. Hill was an outstanding educator and taught at Morgan College in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Edward Augustine Savoy was chief messenger to the Secretary of State. He held the longest service of the Department of State- 64 years. He was one of the few prominent African-Americans of his time, to have a United States Liberty Ship, the SS Edward A. Savoy.
“The Augie” was named in his honor.