If you’ve followed this web site’s news section, you’ve seen our consternation and disappointment regarding the Enrichmond Foundation’s management of Evergreen and East End Cemeteries. Enrichmond was ill-equipped to steward these two critical and fragile properties, but state agencies and politicians threw them in Enrichmond’s lap after 2016 without much of a plan. Since then, we have witnessed the predictable results, including the ejection of longtime volunteer groups who had helped bring the cemeteries forward with great care.
Now, however, a group of 40+ African American descendants of those buried in the grounds have asked Governor Ralph Northam to step in and address the situation. In an open letter sent on March 10, 2021, the group asked the governor to:
- halt the planned transfer of $150,000 in state funding to Enrichmond’s cemetery effort, and
- halt Enrichmond’s negotiations with the city of Richmond for right-of-entry agreements into Oakwood Cemetery and related properties,
- a proper cultural landscape report for all the cemeteries in question is produced and reviewed by authorities,
- the state provides all due diligence upon which it has based its decision to subsidize and support Enrichmond’s acquisition of the grounds, and
- public meetings are convened to allow the community to deliberate on the future of these sacred sites with all of the necessary information in hand.
Seems reasonable, right? As well as just. We will see if state and local officials continue to ignore the worsening situation. Or maybe, finally, our leaders will listen to the growing voices looking for some oversight and transparency here to provide a proper role for descendants in the process.
Those who feel similarly are invited to sign this petition, coordinated by the stalwart Friends of East End Cemetery, which already has 701 signatures as of this post. Here is a new path forward. Listen to the passion here.