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Rep. McEachin introduces bill to preserve historical African-American burial grounds

RICHMOND, Va. -- Saturday marked a major step forward for preservation at historic cemeteries as Congressman Donald McEachin introduced the African American Burial Grounds Network Act.

"These folks did at Evergreen and the East End allowed me to see my roots and how deep my roots are into the Richmond community," McEachin said. "It's a labor of love."

The bill provides federal support for historical African American burial grounds to ensure their preservation.

Veronica Davis, the founder of Virginia Roots Historical Preservation for Evergreen Cemetery and East End Cemetery, said the initiative is something shes been working on for the last 20 years.

"They tell the background history of America and how it was built. They are our last link to our history," Davis said. "It mends a lot of open wounds and it brings together people."

Rep. McEachin said each African American cemetery nationwide will be able to voluntary join the network to receive funds from the National Park Service to help with preservation.

Davis told CBS 6 she believes that funding is long overdue considering the condition of many of the cemeteries.

"But when they [people] go to visit their family research and go back to their resting places, what are they finding? Overgrowth, vegetation, neglect," Davis said.

She believes the bill is a step in the right direction and  still encourages the community to get out and help preserve these cemeteries by visiting.

"We just need to go back and visit our spaces and thanks to Enrichment Foundation, we will be able to go back and visit Evergreen, because it will be a tourist destination," Davis said.

The bill will now head to the Committee of Natural Resources, then to the House and Senate. If passed on those levels, it would head to President Trump's desk for approval.

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