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Volunteers continue work at historic Henrico cemeteries to ‘document history’

Posted at 8:10 PM, Feb 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-01 20:13:19-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Two organizations are celebrating Black History Month by continuing their mission to clean up East End and Evergreen cemeteries in eastern Henrico County.

Evergreen, a 60-acre cemetery dating back to the 1870s, is the final resting place for thousands of African Americans who helped build the City of Richmond.

East End was founded next to Evergreen in 1897. Officials believe that cemetery is the final resting place of an estimated 13,000 people.

Volunteers with the Enrichmond Foundation and Friends of East End cleared ground cover, and hauled debris and fallen trees away from graves. Organizers at East End Cemetery said crews also gathered tires found on the property.

"Evergreen is a UNESCO Site of Memory that is directly related with the international slave trade," Enrichmond Foundation's Kelly Pratt said. "So it's not just of local importance, it's of international importance."

Both cemeteries have faced decades of neglect, but and organizers said after months of work, they are making progress.

"People would come out here to find family graves and they couldn't find them,"  John Shuck with Friends of East End said.

But now both organizers are in the need of more volunteers and help from those in office.

"As you see, there's a lot of work to be done out here, and most of the work is done by volunteers," Pratt explained.  "But we also need the funding to continue with the work."

Del. Doris McQuinn has introduced a bill that would help fund maintenance costs for historic African American cemeteries across Virginia.

"There hasn't been a kind of a perpetual fund of that nature thus far," volunteer Maurice Fountain said. "So having those resources could go a long way to restore this place and document the history of the people that are here."

Click here to learn more about the Evergreen Cemetery or to sign up to volunteer.  Click here to learn more about East End Cemetery or to sign up to volunteer.