Evergreen Cemetery Highway Marker Dedication, Richmond
A new state historical highway marker issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to honor Evergreen Cemetery, a historic African-American cemetery in Richmond, will be unveiled and dedicated Sunday, March 25, at the marker’s location at the cemetery.
|DHR Staff Members Participating in a May 2010 cleanup
of Evergreen Cemetery
The dedication ceremony will begin at 2 p.m., at Evergreen Cemetery, located at 3600 East Richmond Road. The ceremony is open to the public. For more information on speakers at the event, keep an eye on DHR’s website.
Evergreen Cemetery was established in 1891 as a burying ground “for many of Virginia’s most influential African-American residents,” as the marker states. Among those buried there are pioneering business woman Maggie L. Walker and newspaper editor John Mitchell Jr.
Walker (1864-1934), a native of Richmond, was “president and founder of the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank,” in the words of the marker. In addition to chartering a bank, she founded a newspaper, and established a store many years before women in the U.S. had the right to vote. The National Park Service operates a museum about Walker inside her former home in Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood.
John Mitchell Jr. (1863-1929), who will also be honored with a new state historical marker later this year, was editor of the black newspaper the Richmond Planet. Mitchell gained a reputation as a fierce champion of African-American rights during the era of segregation. He, too, once resided in Jackson Ward.
The Evergreen Cemetery marker was approved in March of 2011 by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which administers the marker program.
Virginia’s program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Route 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,200 official state markers, most maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation. For more information on the marker program, click here.
Text of the marker:
In 1891, Evergreen Cemetery was established as a preeminent resting place for many of Virginia’s most influential African-American residents. These include Maggie L. Walker, president and founder of the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, and John Mitchell, Jr., champion of African-American rights and editor of the Richmond Planet newspaper. J.Henry Brown, a stonemason by trade, designed many of the tombstones erected here. By the early 1970s, the cemetery had fallen into disrepair. In 1975, volunteers from the Maggie L. Walker Historical Foundation led an effort to restore Evergreen to its original glory.