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Volunteers chip away at lengthy to-do list at blighted Sweet Olive Cemetery
BATON ROUGE - The oldest Black cemetery in Baton Rouge is often the go-to site for community clean-up projects.
"This is actually our third cleanup [here] this year. We are working to do one every quarter and we're always looking to partner with organization and residents to truly support the cemeteries that have been forgotten," said Symphony Malveaux with MidCity Redevelopment Alliance.
Wednesday morning MCRA teamed up with Cox Communications to clean up Sweet Olive Cemetery.
"It was so important to us to come out to the oldest Black burial ground in Baton Rouge and show honor and pay homage to the folks that are here," said Tracey White with Cox.
This time around they mainly focused on cutting back vegetation that has taken over the grounds and covers a lot of the tombs.
But there are much bigger problems at Sweet Olive including graffiti, and in some cases, exposed remains. In just the last few years, two people have been arrested for vandalizing the cemetery and in one case removing bones.
"The state of the cemetery is so heart breaking because we still have people whose families are still alive. The oldest person in this cemetery is from 1869 and you think that's so long ago, but their family members are still here and family members do not want to come see their family member's tombs like this"
Some of the most recent interments were in the 1980s. Records say there are at least 5,000 people buried on the grounds.
MCRA plans on going back to Sweet Olive this Friday from 8 to 12 to finish the job they started today. Anyone is welcome to join.
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