Bipartisan legislation that creates Missouri’s first state park that honors the heritage of freed slaves has been signed into law by Governor Mike Parson (R).

State Rep. Rodger Reedy (R-Windsor) speaks on the Missouri House floor in Jefferson City on
April 6, 2021 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

The bill from State Rep. Rodger Reedy (R-Windsor) authorizes the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to acquire the Antioch cemetery in west-central Missouri’s Clinton as a state park and a historically significant educational site. It will be operated and maintained by DNR’s Division of State Parks.

“I think the next step will be for the DNR and the existing cemetery board there, of the Antioch Cemetery, to get together and to talk about how they could proceed here in the future,” Reedy tells Missourinet.

The five-acre Antioch Cemetery is in Clinton, which is south of Warrensburg. The bill was approved by the Missouri House 149-0.

Bill supporters say making Antioch a state park will preserve and honor the final resting place of slaves and their descendants. Representative Reedy wants to preserve the cemetery for the future.

“What I would like to see is just a place where people can go look up history and to just preserve that part of history in this area,”

says Reedy.

The five-acre cemetery was established in 1885, when a local farmer deeded the property to freed slaves. The bill signed by the governor designates it as a state historic site.

The historic five-acre Antioch cemetery is located in west-central Missouri’s Clinton, south of Warrensburg (July 22, 2021 photo courtesy of Amber LaBrunerie at Missourinet Clinton affiliate KDKD and
Radford Media)

“It points out the importance of recognizing the contribution that the African-American slave community made in history,” Reedy says.

Representative Reedy and State Sen. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville) sponsored the original Antioch cemetery bill this year. Their bill was amended onto House Bill 369 from State Rep. Tim Taylor (R-Speed), which the Legislature approved on the final day of session in May.

“Antioch cemetery is a very important part of our state’s history. It shows us how far we’ve come in the pursuit of liberty, freedom and justice for all Missourians and I am proud we’re taking on the responsibility of preserving this piece of our history for all future generations,” Senator Brattin says, in a written statement.

The new law requires DNR to allow for burials to continue at Antioch until all plots have been purchased. DNR is not liable for costs associated with burials, under the new law.

Antioch Cemetery is accessible via the Katy trail, which runs from St. Charles County to Clinton.

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with State Rep. Rodger Reedy (R-Windsor), which was recorded on July 19, 2021:

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