Historically Black Cemeteries to Receive State Funding

May 17, 2017

East End Cemetery, a children's cemetery and what may be a cemetery for black Confederate soldiers, will now receive state funding thanks to legislation signed into law by Governor Terry McAuliffe this week.
Credit Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIO IQ

Every year since 1997, Virginia taxpayer money goes to repairing and restoring the graves of Confederate soldiers. Now, for the first time, the state has approved funding for history that has long been ignored: African-American cemeteries.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed two bills Wednesday, authorizing state money to help preserve and clean up overgrown and long-forgotten historically black cemeteries.

“It is truly immoral and unconscionable that we would spend money to honor the Confederate dead without making an equal investment to preserve our historic black cemeteries.”

The measures passed Virginia’s General Assembly with unanimous support this year. Delegate Dolores McQuinn spearheaded the effort to get money specifically for two cemeteries in the Richmond area.

“No longer will we see the graves of Evergreen and East End be desecrated by debris, and trash and over green weeds. No longer will our dead be dismissed as insignificant, and no longer will the preservation of African American history be considered an afterthought.”

The bill also creates a program to dole out $150,000 to other projects preserving black history. Experts estimate there could be thousands of forgotten African-American cemeteries in the state. 

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.