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Grave parity

3/11/2017, 10:03 a.m.

“It was the same concern the Union had” following the Civil War, when efforts were taken to clamp down on Southerners for fear of uprisings after the South lost.

What is important now, Dr. Blakey says, is to think about what has changed and to use the law as a good, fair and accessible means to petition for funding for maintenance of other African-American graveyards across the state.

Dr. Blakey’s work has given us a starting point for identifying some of the hundreds of cemeteries around the commonwealth that hold our ancestors and our history. What is important now, as he notes, is to “involve people who care and who can carry things into the future.”

He says the forces that caused our graveyards to be neglected — bureaucracy, the notion of white superiority, the loss of our own institutions, such as the fraternal burial orders and beneficial societies, are still out there ready to drag down our efforts.

If we want to ensure that our history and our markers to those who carried African-American progress forward are there for the future, then it is up to us to work to do it.

Delegate McQuinn and the volunteers doing the back-breaking work of clearing the undergrowth from East End and Evergreen cemeteries have started. Let’s roll up our sleeves and help.