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Groups clean up historic African-American cemetery

RICHMOND, Va. -- Volunteers with several groups gathered at the East End Cemetery Saturday to clean up the historic burial ground.

The groups included Friends of East End, Oakwood Arts, the National Association of Black Social Workers, veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project as well as Hermitage High School students, according to a volunteer.

In addition to helping clean up the cemetery, participants took photographs highlighting stories and experiences as part of Oakwood Arts's East End Quilt Collective project. The quilt will feature quotes and pictures that celebrate the cemetery's rich past.

“There’s the tragedy of neglect, but the tragedy does not define the place," Brian Palmer recently told RVA Mag.  "This is a sacred site and this is an outdoor archive of the African American, the Richmond, the American experience. All of that is here, it may be buried under vines and, in some places, illegally dumped trash, but there is beauty, there is love expressed in these headstones, on the inscriptions — and there is a tremendous amount to learn.”

Last month the General Assembly made 19 more Virginia cemeteries eligible for state maintenance funds.

Additionally, Congressman Donald McEachin introduced the African American Burial Grounds Network Act last month.

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