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Print sale to benefit volunteers at East End Cemetery

Local nonprofit Virginia Roots is working with artist Barry O’Keefe to raise funds for the reclamation of Richmond’s historic East End Cemetery.

Three woodcut portraits of famous African Americans buried in Richmond’s neglected cemeteries are being sold to raise funds for the volunteers. All profit from sales will go towards renting goats to help clear Kudzu, and renting dumpsters to transport brush from worksites.

The three portraits of Maggie L. Walker, Rosa D. Bowser, and John Mitchell Jr., all buried at Richmond’s East End or Evergreen cemeteries, were made using a combination of wood block prints and letterpress. The prints include images of Richmond landmarks associated with each historic figure, including the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, and the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. Each print is available in a limited edition of 5.

East End Cemetery is one of a group of historic African American cemeteries in Richmond, Virginia known as the Four Cemeteries at Evergreen. Many of Richmond’s most prominent African American residents are buried in these cemeteries. Because early charters made no provisions for ongoing maintenance, individual families were required to care for their relatives’ graves. As a result, as family members have died or moved away, most of the cemetery has returned to the wilderness. Today, volunteers working to return the cemeteries to their former grandeur.

Rosa L. Dixon Bowser (1855-1931) was an educator, civic leader and civil rights activist. She helped found and served as president of Virginia’s first professional association of African American teachers. Richmond’s first library for African American citizens, today the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, was established in her honor in 1925. She is buried in East End Cemetery.

Maggie Lena Walker (1867-1934) was a nationally prominent African American business leader, educator, newspaper editor and Civil Rights activist. She was the first African American woman to found a bank. Maggie Walker High School, today known as the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, was founded in her honor in 1937. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery

John Mitchell Jr. (1863 – 1929) was a pioneering newspaper editor, politician and businessman. As editor of the Richmond Planet, he raised the newspaper to national prominence in the struggle against Jim Crow. Mitchell represented Jackson Ward in the Richmond city government, organized a successful boycott of the segregated trolley system and ran for Governor of Virginia. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Barry O’Keefe was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. He received a BA in English and Russian Studies from the College of William and Mary in 2010, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Printmaking at Ohio University.

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15 comments

Church Hillian 02/05/2014 at 10:09 PM

Until a comprehensive solution is found, I think we need to expect that the weeds will continue to win the war.

Has anyone asked the city or the country to take over the care taking responsibilities of these cemeteries? I thought the land was in the city limits but a county police officer who was parked on the upper entrance told me otherwise. If neither are willing – would some grant money entice them? How much fundraising would it take to have the landscaping funded for the next thirty years?

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crd 02/06/2014 at 12:14 AM

@2, I thought it was in the city limits, too. I would be interested in answers to your questions, too. Not just whether any gov’t has been asked, but whether any grants would help. Are you a grant writer, could you help to get a grant?

I think it’s truly a shame the way this place is not kept up, and I’d very much like to see it improved.

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Church Hillian 02/06/2014 at 9:37 AM

@3, not a grant writer, just a concerned neighbor. It’s my limited understanding that excluding these cemeteries from city/county management may have been racially motivated in the 70’s. Happy to help play a part in a larger effort towards a comprehensive solution.

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Kelly 02/07/2014 at 10:26 PM

I think a comprehensive solution is a great idea. But in the meantime, I’m showing my support by buying a beautiful print. Seems like a win-win.

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SR 02/11/2014 at 8:48 AM

Great print that I am proud to own but needs to be shipped in a tube not a USPO triangle box. Mine was smashed flat.

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B. O'Keefe 02/11/2014 at 10:23 PM

SR,
Thank you for communicating about this. All future prints will be shipped in cardboard tubes. I have contacted you by email about a replacement print.

Reply
On the importance of The Four Cemeteries at Evergreen and the effort to clear back the forest ‹ CHPN 02/16/2014 at 11:29 AM

[…] Prints for sale to benefit the volunteer cleanup effort […]

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A shrine box to remember the Church Hill Train Tunnel disaster ‹ CHPN 05/12/2014 at 6:46 AM

[…] by the Orthodox Christian tradition of roadside altars, artist Barry O’Keefe (previously) has recently installed a shrine box to remember the Church Hill Train Tunnel […]

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