Historic Greenwood Cemetery, terrestrial resting place of over 50,000 Black human beings, embodies the paradox of dis- and respect that our species can so profoundly bring to pass. In a heartfelt complementarity, Greenwood also offers one of our region's best opportunities for environmental and cultural service.
Shelley and Rafael Morris, leaders of the Greenwood Cemetery Preservation Association, first shared with KDHX Earthworms in January 2018 the significance of the oldest non-sectarian African American cemetery in the St. Louis region - and the moving story of efforts to reclaim the grounds from invasive plants and illegal dumping. Four years later, Greenwood's network of volunteers and supporters has certainly grown, yet the need persists for fiscal and work party support.
Good news is that multiple STL companies have adopted Greenwood as a reoccurring focus of service and monetary support. AmeriCorps St. Louis volunteers are regular workers. About half of Greenwood's T-shaped 31.85 acres have been freed from human and plant debris. From the Morris's deep commitment, discussions are beginning to observe the 150th anniversary of Greenwood Cemetery's founding, in 2024. With equity a priority for so many enterprises, what might be accomplished by then?
This year, NBC News featured Greenwood for a Black History Month story on the plight - and pluck - of those working to resurrect Black cemetery dignity and heritage. Good to get this degree of spotlight, plenty more work and outreach to come.
Related Earthworms Conversations: Meeting Greenwood Cemetery (Jan 2018)
St. Louis Environmental Racism Report (October 2019)
THANKS to Andy Heaslet, Earthworms Engineer, and to Andy Coco and Jon Valley of KDHX Production Team.