Volunteer program tackles cleanup of historic Richmond African-American cemeteries

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Volunteers with Americorps’ National Civilian Community Corps (Americorps NCCC) will work with the Enrichmond Foundation to document and maintain graves at Richmond’s historic East End and Evergreen cemeteries. (Photo: 8News)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Volunteers with Americorps’ National Civilian Community Corps (Americorps NCCC) will work with the Enrichmond Foundation to document and maintain graves at Richmond’s historic East End and Evergreen cemeteries.

The team of 10 volunteers will work at the cemetery from Aug. 7 to Sept. 6, clearing brush and cleaning graves, some of which are over a hundred years old. According to a press release, restoration efforts were stalled over the last year by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Americorps team “will be essential to Enrichmond getting back on track with its on-site restoration efforts.”

Part of their time will be spent helping to expand a comprehensive map of the graves at East End. The map, created in collaboration with the University of Richmond, is an effort to document in a searchable format every grave in the cemetery so that families can pay their respects and locate relatives.

East End Cemetery was founded in 1891 as a private cemetery for African-Americans in Richmond, who were barred by the city from being buried in white-only public cemeteries. Enrichmond estimates that there are up to 17,500 people buried in the 16-acre cemetery.

During the 20th century, the site was neglected for years, until Richmond resident Veronica Davis started Virginia Roots to help restore the cemetery in the late 90’s. That duty was taken over by Friends of East End in 2013, and they partnered with the Enrichmond Foundation, a local nonprofit, to officially assume ownership in 2019.

You can find more information on the East End cemetery and volunteer opportunities with Friends of East End here.

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