Some of Richmond’s most prominent African American cemeteries have been neglected for decades, nearly lost to weeds, brush, and tree growth. Cracked headstones, overgrown gravesites, and broken fences are commonplace at sites like East End and Evergreen Cemeteries.
But thanks to the efforts of countless volunteers and a new state law providing restoration funding that was first introduced by Delegate Delores McQuinn, these once high-end resting places are steadily being restored to their former beauty.
Evergreen Cemetery, established in 1897, is the final resting place of many notable Richmonders including bank founder and activist Maggie Walker and John Mitchell, Jr., founder of local newspaper The Richmond Planet.
The effort will be helped along in a big way at one of the cemeteries this Friday, September 1st when local landscaping company Brightview Landscape Services will be onsite at Evergreen Cemetery conducting a large-scale clean up day with their crews. The company is donating their services to the Enrichmond Foundation, one of the entities overseeing the cemetery’s restoration.
The event was originally scheduled for July 28th but was rescheduled due to inclement weather conditions.
Crews will clear major roadways through the cemetery to improve volunteer and family access to the gravesites. More than 25 employees are expected to bush hog, skid steer, mow, and weed-eat throughout the day.
Delegate McQuinn, who secured $5 in state assistance per gravesite for those who lived at any time between January 1, 1800 and January 1, 1900, is expected to be in attendance. She authored HB 1547, a bill signed into law that will provide ongoing state assistance for cemetery maintenance. East End Cemetery in Henrico County has 4,875 graves that qualify for assistance; Evergreen Cemetery in Richmond has 2,100.
Former Delegate and Secretary of Administration for the Commonwealth of Virginia Viola Baskerville is also planning to be on site. The cleanup begins around 8:30 AM.
- The history of Evergreen Cemetery and details on HB 1547 in our New Law Spotlight
- A photo tour of the cemetery in its most neglected state via The Shockoe Examiner
Chelsea Jackson of VCU Capital News Service contributed to this report.