‘We’re making it right’: Lexington officials celebrate upgrades to Evergreen Cemetery

A Black cemetery owned by the city of Lexington has been mostly ignored over the years, but the city took some steps to right some of the wrongs of the past.

LEXINGTON, Va. – A historical Black cemetery in Lexington owned by the city for decades got a much-needed facelift.

On Wednesday, officials cut the ribbon to the new and improved Evergreen Cemetery.

“We’re making it right,” said Vice Mayor Marylin Alexander. “They may not be heroes in the history books, but they’re heroes to the Black community.”

“You look at where it was put, the timeframe it was put there, the assumption that it was put there for a reason. It’s back in a corner where you don’t notice it,” stated Lexington City Manager Jim Halasz. “It wasn’t very well taken care of.”

From landscaping to headstone cleaning and improving the gates that preserve the area, a lot of much-needed attention was given to the property.

When conversations about renaming Oak Grove, which was Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, began, so did conversations about Evergreen and how much of a facelift it needed.

Vice Mayor Alexander has family at the cemetery. While it was decided to leave the name as is, she said it felt like a personal responsibility to do something.

“That’s all they have. They don’t have monuments or all of those kinds of things around town to remember or memorialize people in their history, but they have Evergreen Cemetery,” said Alexander. “We’ve got to make things happen for that cemetery and we’re doing it.”

Halasz said the project was a $90,000 investment.

“The entire community needs to understand and recognize the different aspects of the community both today and historically,” said Halasz.

About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.