Wider concerns about cemetery reclamation lacking in article
12/31/2020, 6 p.m.
Re “Work at historic cemeteries continues during pandemic,” Free Press Dec. 24-26 edition:
The article by Jeremy M. Lazarus is so lacking in relevant information about the reclamation efforts at Evergreen and East End cemeteries, past or present, that it seems worse than no story at all.
Mr. Lazarus omits all mention of the Friends of East End, the organization that spearheaded the reclamation of that cemetery since 2013 and recently announced it would suspend its on-site work after years of conflict with the Enrichmond Foundation. The Friends are still actively involved in clearing and mapping the cemetery and preserving its history with university and community partners. I am involved with this group, the East End Cemetery Collaboratory, from a distance.
Announcing their decision to discontinue their work in the cemetery, they cited Enrichmond’s lack of transparency about financial and other matters, and its repeated efforts to claim ownership and control of the work done by all volunteers on-site. Mr. Lazarus wrote about this in November, yet included none of the relevant details in this latest piece.
Wherever a reader’s sympathies might ultimately lie after learning about these issues, your readership surely deserves something more than a press release disguised as journalism. (Other media outlets) have all shared with their readers at least some of the concerns about these cemeteries’ future. Their stories have incorporated the voices of descendants, other volunteer groups and critics, along with Enrichmond’s executive director, the only person quoted in Mr. Lazarus’ article.
If any local news media should be covering the state of these sacred African-American burial grounds with doggedness and depth, it seems it should be the Richmond Free Press. So why are your readers getting so much less?