Michael Mayfield: And that's why we are here today. To show our love, our respect for our loved ones who are passed on.
Walt: With that Vicksburg Alderman Michael Mayfield wraps up a ceremony of sorts thanking the people who have put in five years of labor cleaning vines and weeds and broken branches from Beulah Cemetery, the first organized burial grounds for Blacks in Vicksburg after the end of the Civil War, significant because this was where steps toward building an autonomous community were starting to be taken. Beulah was the ONLY place where Blacks were buried other than church graveyards or private grave yards on their own property until after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and then they could be also be buried in Vicksburg's City Cemetery. After which Beulah was sort of forgotten and became overgrown. But individual families continued to clear off their plots, like the family of Hilda Young-Light and her brother, Ernest Young.
Hilda: All the boys would come down and clean off then all the girls would come down with flowers.
Walt: But about five years ago a movement was started to bring the cemetery back. Katrina Hurricane refugee Karen Fredrick was in on the beginnings as a thank you to her new community.
Karan: I lost my home and pretty much everything. So Vicksburg and community and friends that I have made have saved me. So I wanted to give something back.
Walt: But it's the kind of gift that keeps on giving. Or that we have to keep on giving to. Mayor Paul Winfield says it's going to take continued effort to keep Beulah in this nice of or better condition.
Paul Winfield: I think it's very important that local citizens here in Warren County take the initiative to come out.
Walt: And I wouldn't think that is limited to Black citizens. I think we're beginning to get far enough along to figure out that it's not Black history and White history anymore, so much as it is OUR history. And we're all standing today on everything that happened back then. Even the places where the first steps of the Black Community becoming an independent community were taken. Places like Beulah Cemetery in Vicksburg.
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