Beneath a forest in Richmond Virginia there is a cemetery.
Evergreen Cemetery, created in 1891, is a historic African-American cemetery, located in the East End of Richmond, VA. Parts of the cemetery are overgrown but you can see the headstones, but all around you is forest with headstones you cant see.
This cemetery was abandoned for almost 40 years and nature has taken over.
This is the resting place for many of Richmond’s African-American leaders of the 19th and 20th centuries:
- Maggie L. Walker - Walker was the first female bank president of any race to charter a bank in the United States.
- John Mitchell, Jr - American businessman, newspaper editor, African American civil rights activist, and politician a newspaper publisher who risked his life to crusade for civil rights
- Rev. J. Andrew Bowler - helped organize the first school for African Americans on Richmond's Church Hill - founder of the Virginia State Teachers Association
There are an estimated 10,000 plots in Evergreen, most of which have become overgrown after decades of neglect.
So how did it get this way?
The original organization responsible for the cemetery, made no allowances for long term care of this cemetery. Then In 1970, the association sold its more than 5,000 plots to Metropolitan Memorial Services, which soon went bankrupt.
A group of black funeral-home directors later bought the site at auction.
Over the years, Evergreen, East End and many other black cemeteries across Virginia have fallen into disrepair, neglected and unacknowledged.
Restoration of Evergreen cemetery is underway.
With 6 to 8 of its 60 acres cleared so far.
The EnRichmond Foundation is on a "shoe string budget" and depends on volunteers for clean up and grave site recording. You can volunteer in the summer on Saturdays.
There are many great stories about the volunteer effort.
This place has me feeling 2 things.
Im sad that this place has been swallowed up by nature, and perhaps the stories of its people are lost to the kudzu and forest. At the same time I was taken aback by the power of nature here. That nature has completely taken over this cemetery, to where, in spots, you cant tell it was ever a cemetery at all.
How to help
https://enrichmond.org/evergreen-cemetery/background/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evergreen_Cemetery_(Richmond,_Virginia) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoIZ9PqBwiI