From Aug. 5-11, I helped clean up Cedar Grove Cemetery. Cedar Grove is a historical Augusta cemetery founded by Springfield Baptist Church. In 1820, the city allocated 40 acres of land for it.
Cemeteries are supposed to preserve and honor the dead. Cedar Grove does not. The grass, in places, is up to 5 feet high. Vagrants are sleeping, urinating and leaving liquor bottles about the graves.
While working, I recognized many prominent names on gravestones: R.A. and B.L. Dent, Mr. and Mrs. Silas X. Floyd, Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Lowe, Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Hornsby, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Stone Pinkerston, Mrs. Edgar Brown, my grandparents and many more. We all should be relieved that the last plot was sold in 1965.
Tara Jimenez - my supervisor during the cleanup - two male workers and I worked diligently from 6:30 a.m. each day, stopping only for lunch. I have never witnessed people working so hard. The only equipment we had with which to cut 40 acres were three weed-eaters, which would shut off repeatedly; the lawn mower was in the shop. Trees had fallen about the graves, and the graveyard was covered in fire ants. ...
Many workers have been pulled away to work at Magnolia and other cemeteries. I had never been to Magnolia until recently. Their building is beautiful on the inside; a security camera protects the premises; a large fountain is in the back; and the grass on every grave is cut. ...
It is inexcusable for the city to continue its practice of racial difference. It is time for us to speak up and demand fair treatment. The people in Cedar Grove deserve better. They were promised perpetual care.
The city of Augusta put a street separating Cedar Grove from Magnolia. Their inhabitants are separate, but they most definitely are not equal - even in death.
Mattie Mitchell, Augusta
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