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A Virginia teen saw a historic black cemetery in disrepair. He recruited his fellow Boy Scouts to restore it by Hannah Natanson

Frederick Douglass escaped slavery and went on to become an influential abolitionist, a celebrated author, and a vice-presidential candidate.

Griffin Burchard never forgot the dilapidated Virginia cemetery named after one of the most famous African Americans of the 19th century.

Burchard first spotted Douglass Memorial Cemetery — named for orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass — while on a service trip with his Boy Scout troop about three years ago. The Scouts were supposed to be removing faded wreaths from pristine rows of graves inside the well-maintained Alexandria National Cemetery. 

Burchard first spotted Douglass Memorial Cemetery — named for orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass — while on a service trip with his Boy Scout troop about three years ago. The Scouts were supposed to be removing faded wreaths from pristine rows of graves inside the well-maintained Alexandria National Cemetery.

But Burchard’s eyes were drawn to the run-down plot just down the street.

“I noticed that, unlike all the other cemeteries in the complex, it was not being kept up,” Burchard, 16, said. “There were fallen leaves, signs of flooding, and trees with limbs hanging so far over you couldn’t even read the sign that says, ‘Douglass.’ ” 

“I noticed that, unlike all the other cemeteries in the complex, it was not being kept up,” Burchard, 16, said. “There were fallen leaves, signs of flooding, and trees with limbs hanging so far over you couldn’t even read the sign that says, ‘Douglass.’ ”

© Hannah Natanson/TWP Alexandria city records show at least 1,900 people, all African-American, were buried at the Frederick Douglass Cemetery between the 1890s and 1975, (Photo by Hannah Natanson/TWP)

On Thursday afternoon, Burchard stood in that same cemetery, now swept clean of debris, and smiled as he watched a fellow Boy Scout whip away a black cloth to reveal a brand-new sign for the plot. It was the culmination of a months-long restoration project Burchard undertook to earn Eagle Scout status — and it was timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of enslaved Africans’ arrival in Virginia.

Douglass cemetery contains about 600 headstones, though records show at least 1,900 people, all African American, were buried there between the 1890s and 1975, said City of Alexandria archaeologist Benjamin Skolnik. Some were likely enslaved, and many were almost certainly descendants of slaves, according to Skolnik.

In addition to detailing a brief history of the cemetery, Burchard’s marker quotes Douglass: “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” To read more go to the link below:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/good-news/a-virginia-teen-saw-a-historic-black-cemetery-in-disrepair-he-recruited-his-fellow-boy-scouts-to-restore-it/ar-AAFRlVF?ocid=se

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