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Volunteers clean up, record grave data at historic Richmond cemeteries

Posted at 6:55 PM, Aug 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-21 18:55:22-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Volunteers helped clean up and record data at two of Richmond's historic African American cemeteries Saturday.

Young adults with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps teamed up with the Enrichmond Foundation for a clean up and restoration project at the East End and Evergreen cemeteries.

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. It is also a UNESCO Site of Memory because of its connection to the international slave trade.

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

In addition to clearing away brush and helping with maintenance, volunteers worked to find grave locations and record that data into an online database.

Volunteers said their work was very rewarding.

“To have the privilege to restore these, this area that has been left to over to overgrowth for so long, has been very fulfilling,” one woman said. “It really helps center me and helps me think about how important history is to me -- especially with our heritage.”

Another volunteer called the project “really unique.”

“There's really no other project that is able to say that we sat here and we cleared land to be able to reconnect families,” she said. “... I honestly I love it.”

Organizers said the cemeteries are in critical need of care because the pandemic significantly impacted the ability for volunteers to come out and work on the grounds.

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.

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