Volunteers continue Memorial Day weekend tradition cleaning up historic African American cemeteries

Hampton

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Volunteers were working hard, mowing, edging, and doing their best to preserve the Elmerton and Bassette Cemeteries in Hampton.

“When we talk about community development we tend to forget about this kind of community development work,” said Dr. Colita Fairfax, president of the Barrett-Peake Heritage Foundation.

Fairfax says this is a Memorial Day weekend tradition started by the late Dr. Mary T. Christian.

“She organized this foundation in 2014 with one of the missions to preserve and clean up historical black cemeteries,” she said.

She says they have continued the tradition to maintain these spaces.

“You’re remembering the lives of people who gave so much to the community,” said Fairfax.

Norfolk resident Elbert Louis and his wife came up to Hampton to lend a hand. 

“Oh my! It looked like it needed help, so we came to help out wherever we could,” said Louis.

He says after seeing how overgrown the area can easily become, he wants to come back periodically to make sure it is maintained.

“We decided we should just adopt this area and I suggested and recommended maybe others will come and adopt an area so when we all come back together again it won’t be as difficult to get to the grave,” he said.

People were also encouraged to drop off American flags to be placed on the hundreds of graves in both cemeteries.


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