NO MATTER WHAT- or - WHAT YOU NOT GON DO is ...
Updated: Jan 28
Let's stop this foolishness
It's true that I am currently the sole board member of Enrichmond . I chose to remain to help the city as determined by the foundations bylaws. As such I have to refrain from comment or speculate on developing actions. Since July, 2022 I’ve been advised and also chastised regarding this directive. But when it comes to Evergreen and East End we’re talking about over a hundred years of success, hopes, struggles, defeat, anger and revival. Now is not the time for cautious silence in this regard.
So it's good that I followed my father's advice and didn't become a politician or a preacher. I can say what’s needed. But it has to be based on wisdom and facts. Not crafted sound bites, careless words or useless bickering.
It is pure foolishness not to recognize the shared intentions of our community. We all want these cemeteries cared for. I have always said to anyone who will listen that the FOEE do the work of giving loving care to sacred grounds better than anyone. Their collective ability to gather and share information is a template for this kind of work. They, in my opinion, exemplify how both descendants and volunteers can claim the emotional ownership of our ancestors land and remains. I’ve seen how those working out here for the first time become entangled with each other’s commitment.
But ever since people like Veronica Davis, Marvin Harris and many other Richmonders pushed to get resources for restoration and reclamation a lot has changed. The trifecta of McQuinn, McEachin and McClellan went in to fight for funding and won. That changed issues of more than funding. Rules about liability and structure changed the landscape. Qualifying for funding brings new challenges. That’s just a fact. When people vie for control of the purse strings it breeds distrust.
I call it like I see it. The elders asked for public help. Help came and Richmond did what what it always does. Start a damn civil war.
A private public partnership became possible. But broken promises made in private combined with careless words in printed in public became a badly written reality show. The main plot was how an overreaching vision (the 2019 ten year master plan) somehow became a villainous plot to build a theme park.
All the while hundreds of descendants just want to be able to safely drive to and walk through the cemetery. Yes. A good number are rightly concerned about the "who and how" of conservation procedures and respecting each burial. But Evergreen and East End are not slave burial grounds. The rules have to be tailored to the the facts.
Yet. With all of that to be designed most elders and their children could give a rats ass about us bickering about protocol. They just want to "drive to and walk through". Not a week has gone by since I started that I haven’t heard the phrases. "It looks better than it did" or "just keep the place clean". Or been asked what can we do to clean more and keep it that way?
The Elders come out and keep it 100. Sometimes using their favorite curse words. One man said "it’s as simple as owning a house with a big yard. You can’t do nothing till you cut the damn grass." We laughed and talked some more. "You do it yourself or pay someone on the cheap. You can’t plant flowers in weeds. Neighbors can and will complain if you don’t. If you get to old, have a lazy son or a neighbor can’t keep it up for free you better pay into the ghetto economy. " (his words not mine. He meant the Jackson Ward collective economy)
The point of his parable is clear. As of right now we are able to keep the grounds clean. Volunteer groups are welcome to come in and do the work. If you have never been out to do the work please call either the Friends of East End or the official phone number for the Cemeteries at Evergreen. 804.402.2940. You can reach me online at RichmondPlanet.com. This way you can be in touch with those that respect the grounds and can show you how to do the same. You can also go to HandsOnRVa.org
I am confident that Mayor Stoney and city officials will pick up the pace in regards to future cemetery issues. It may take a while. In the meantime we can’t allow these grounds to become a forest again. This work is a decades long process. So we need to set a better standard for our descendants. No matter what. Never a forest again.