Post Content

Historic Black cemetery under threat of being washed away in Old Town

Michael Johnson’s grandfather, Albert, died two months before Michael was born and is buried somewhere in Douglass Memorial Cemetery. Where he is exactly buried is unclear, since Albert’s gravestone and several others have been lost as recent flooding threatens to wash away a historic Black cemetery.

The cemetery has been a burial site for Black Alexandrians since 1827 and was named after Frederick Douglass after the abolitionist leader died in 1895. Records who that around 2,000 people were buried in the cemetery until burials stopped in 1974.

The cemetery fell into disrepair for a few years and the number of grave markers for those buried in the cemetery is already low. A city report says the number of well-defined graves is close to 10%, and the lack of intact vaults or caskets reflects the socioeconomic limitations of the families. It’s a situation Johnson said has been exacerbated by recent flooding, where some of the few remaining markers are disappearing.

“It’s been flooding for years,” Johnson said. “When I was a kid, we never heard of it flooding, and then the apartment building was built… Now it’s getting real bad.”

Among those missing are Albert Johnson, his brother Wallace “Jack” Johnson, and Michael Johnson’s uncle Alfred.

“I can only find three of the six headstone markers in my family there,” Johnson said. “Where are the rest of the people’s who are buried there?”

The city has faced frequent flooding over the last few years, including floods earlier this month. After some of the more recent flooding, Johnson said more of the grave markers have gone missing; potentially buried in dirt elsewhere in the cemetery.

There are some complications when it comes to fixing the problem, though.

A city archeologist noted in an email that a stream channel historically ran through the site where there are water problems today. Though the grass is cut and the trash is picked up by the city and the Office of Historic Alexandria, the archeologist also said the cemetery is technically abandoned and not owned by the city, which makes it difficult for the city to implement repairs.

Johnson said something should be done to preserve the memory and peace of those buried in Douglass Cemetery.

“It’s gotten worse,” Johnson said. “Cemeteries should be a sanctuary for where we respect and give the upmost attention to it.”

Recent Stories

Mindy’s Catering, a catering company based out of the Berkley neighborhood in D.C., is moving to an industrial park just across the street from the Victory Center. A special use…

Zen kitty Callie is looking for a new home in Alexandria. The 13-year-old female domestic longhaired brown and gray tabby cat is up for adoption with the Animal Welfare League…

The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a collective bargaining agreement with the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, ushering in a new era of collaboration with city employees. If likely approved…

As a time of giving, Ask McEnearney spotlights the community revitalization in Alexandria.

High School Senior Anxious about College Life? Our amazing graduate interns, Meghan Damminger and Kelly Charwat are starting an affordable College Readiness group in early 2023. Working out day and time. Please email [email protected] to set up a free consultation after the Thanksgiving holiday. And yes, Meghan and Kelly have a few openings for individual clients as well. Their rate is $45 per session. [www.sarahmoorelpc.com](http://www.sarahmoorelpc.com/?fbclid=IwAR3ZlfQnSLVRCc78HbTZutDYZErTctC_5pl- zt4eo_wjQo1gF6uHS–k32g).

Submit your own Community Post here.

Monarch Montessori School, located in the education center at 218 East Monroe Avenue, is currently enrolling infants and toddlers for the 2022-2023 school year. We’re an authentic Montessori preschool with a STEM emphasis!

We Offer: Arts & Crafts, Yoga & Pottery, Language & Early Literacy, Botany & Culinary Arts, Music Appreciation, Chorus & Language Immersion, Mathematics, Geography & Science, Practical Life & Culture.

Full-time, part-time, flexible and drop-in options!

RATES

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Brassy Jazzy Christmas

Don’t miss this toe tapping celebration!

The Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia (SONOVA) presents “Brassy Jazzy Christmas,” a strong lineup of Christmas and holiday favorites. Inspired by Stan Keton’s album “A Merry Christmas!,” SONOVA has created a jazz band–substituting french

Alexandria’s 47th Annual Turkey Trot 5 Mile Race

Join in Alexandria’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition- the 47th Turkey Trot 5 Mile Race. Alexandria’s favorite Thanksgiving morning tradition, the Alexandria Turkey Trot, returns to the streets of Del Ray on Thursday, November 24 at 9 a.m. In the spirit of

×

Subscribe to our mailing list