BATON ROUGE - With machetes and weed eaters in hand, a group of volunteers took on the job of cleaning Sweet Olive Cemetery in Baton Rouge.
“It’s so much tradition here. So much hidden beauty,” volunteer Richard Slaughter said. “We just took it as our job to expose it.”
The volunteers are with an organization called RAX Worldwide, which stands for random acts of kindness.
“We find problems, come up with solutions and then we execute,” Everrett Parker II said. “That’s why we are out here.”
The cemetery in Midcity looked more like a jungle than a resting place for the dead. Some tombs were damaged and pools of water cover others.
Sweet Olive was established in 1850. It is the city’s first recognized African American graveyard. It is now abandoned with no provisions for upkeep. Because it is not a perpetual care cemetery, it’s up to volunteer organizations like RAX to come in and clean the neglected graveyard.
“We want to get the grounds chopped down, trimmed and refined, the graveyard painted and the headstones replaced if possible,” Slaughter said. “We need the support of the people.”