Local historical African American cemetery holds Memorial Day ceremony to honor those buried there

Posted at 1:50 PM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 20:01:30-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.- Honoring and remembering those that have gone before us.

The News 3 Investigative Team told you in March about an African American cemetery that needed to be cleaned up.

There has been a lot of progress, and on this Memorial Day, they held the first-ever event there to honor those who are buried there.

Monday was the first time Monica Simons went to her grandfather and great-grandmother’s graves.

They’re buried in the cemetery located in the center of the historically African American community Newsome Farms.

“I’m just glad someone made the effort to clean up the cemetery and make it look beautiful,” said Simons.

It had been an eyesore.

Linda Carrington said she has been working for 27 years to get improvements to it. In March, there was a massive cleanup.

“We wanted to give the Black, American African soldiers appreciation,“ said Carrington.

The city told the I-Team that technically, no one owns the land.

Monday, they had an hour-long ceremony to remember those who are buried here.

“We must never forget - this is our story. My story; your story; America’s story survival of moving forward and making Virginia Beach a better place to live,” said Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond.

There are about 40 tombstones. Some are marked, others are not.

A few of the graves date back to the 1800s.

Edna Hendrix is a local historian working to find the people who are buried here. She is trying to also locate family members and people who used to own land in the surrounding area of Newsome Farms.

“So many African-Americans fought in the Civil War and fought in World War I, World War II and the Korean War, and we don’t know their names. And some families don’t even know that these men are in their families so it’s a connection back for them as well,” said Hendrix.

The City of Virginia Beach is working to get the property listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means it could get funding for upkeep.

Historians are working to identify those who are buried here in hopes of honoring and remembering all that they sacrificed.

“I’m touched and I’m actually honored because my family's here, and I’m thankful - very, very thankful,” said Simons.

Organizers say they hope to make this an annual event.