SMYRNA, Ga. (AP) — An Atlanta area city has restored a slave cemetery that had become nearly invisible after years of neglect.
Smyrna will hold a dedication, dedication on February 20 for the renewed Mount Zion Cemetery, WSB-TV reports.
The city spent $100,000 to clear trees, build a fence and wall, improve landscaping and restore headstones after taking over the site in 2019, Smyrna councilman Travis Lindley told the news station.
“It was in a complete state of disrepair. You wouldn’t even recognize it,” Lindley said. “This (cemetery) was covered in probably 8 to 10 feet of brush. There was some very large oak trees that died. One of them had fallen over.”
The church was founded after the Civil War by former slaves. Slaves and their descendants are buried there.
“This cemetery is a place on the landscape that tells part of the African American history of Smyrna. This is a testament to their lives, their struggles and accomplishments,” said Smyrna museum manager Jennie Eldredge.
Lisa Castleberry, who lives in Smyrna’s historic Black neighborhood, said neighbors had tried to maintain the cemetery over the years but couldn’t keep up with the work.
“I’m just happy to see it look like this,” Castleberry said. “That I live to see it.”
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.