This is Evergreen Cemetery, burial ground for some of the elite citizens of Richmond in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Bankers, publishers, doctors, lawyers — the type of upper crust who are usually lionized in this city of monuments. Except that all of these people were black, and the city’s grand cemeteries wouldn’t have them when they died.
Founded 126 years ago, the 60-acre Evergreen has no ongoing means of support. Only a network of dedicated volunteers keeps it and the adjacent East End Cemetery from being erased by time and vegetation.
But help may be on the way, in a form that could offer hope to other African American cemeteries across Virginia in similar predicaments. A bill working its way through the General Assembly would set aside money for Evergreen and East End — just as the state already pays for the upkeep of thousands of Confederate graves statewide.
“They have been left out of the equation,” said Del. Delores L. McQuinn (D-Richmond), who sponsored the bill. “We’ve got a whole laundry list of Confederate cemeteries and Revolutionary cemeteries that are given money every year. We’re not asking for anything out of the normal.”