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African-American Cemetery being restored in Alexandria
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Alderman Bennett Armstrong shows off one of the hidden treasures revealed during the cleanup of the old African-American cemetery in Alexandria. - photo by Photo by Reed Vanderpool
February is Black History Month, and City of Alexandria is working to preserve a very important piece of black history in their town.The building at the top of the hill on Cemetery Street in Alexandria, as well as the adjoining cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the site of many important political meeting during the Jim Crow era, including visits by such important figures as W.E.B. Dubois.While vandals and age have damaged the cemetery since upkeep began to slip 50-60 years ago, Alexandria Alderman Bennett Armstrong and some employees of the city have taken the restoration of the property, now owned by the city, as a pet project.“The church, originally an African-American Methodist place of worship, was started in 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War,” Armstrong told the Review. “It was maintained up until the 1950’s. We have a WWI and a WWII veteran that we know of in the African-American section of the cemetery, and many plain stone makers and unmarked graves that we will be trying to identify.”The white section of the cemetery contains the remains of at least one Revolutionary War veteran.“The guys on the streets department in Alexandria have had worked hard cleaning the cemetery up,” Armstrong shared.“It looks like it has been years since anything was done up there.” said Alexandria employee Kirk Roth.