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General Assembly Approves Expanded State Funding For African American Cemeteries

Richmond's historic Evergreen Cemetery.
Richmond's historic Evergreen Cemetery. Catherine Komp/WCVE News

The Virginia General Assembly has passed a number of bills providing funding to preserve historic African American cemeteries throughout the state.

In 2017, the state legislature passed a bill from Delegate Delores McQuinn that provided funding for the maintenance and preservation of about 7, 500 graves, including many at Richmond's Evergreen and East End Cemeteries. Four bills were introduced this year expanding the list of historic African American cemeteries eligible for funding to cemeteries in Hampton, Martinsville and the County of Pulaski. They will receive $5 per grave site.

Unlike cemeteries for Confederate veterans, African American burial grounds from the 1800's never received state funding and many fell into disrepair. 

Brett Glymph, executive director of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, said the state of these historic cemeteries is an example of the lasting legacy of Jim Crow practices.

Glymph said the hope is that the new funding will provide local volunteer groups with funds for supplies needed to clean graves and clear overgrowth.

"We’re hoping this bill will do what it has done for the other cemeteries, and  it solidifies the community partnerships for the citizens that are interested in maintaining these spaces.”

In order to be eligible for funding, the grave site must be for someone who died in the 19th century. The program will be overseen by the  Department of Historic Resources.