Juneteenth Commemoration with Purpose: Bates Allen Park Cleanup

Juneteenth Commemoration with Purpose: Bates Allen Park Cleanup

June 13 2023

On Saturday, June 16, the community is invited to celebrate Juneteenth weekend by volunteering to clean the historic cemeteries and gravesites of former slaves at Bates Allen Park.

Last year, the tombstones of at least 20 former slaves buried in the historic Newman Chapel and Oak Hill cemeteries in Bates Allen Park were found in deterioration. Since the discovery, a group of volunteers, including descendants of those buried, embarked on a mission to restore dignity to the declining grave sites.

Fort Bend Commissioner Dexter L. McCoy paying respects at the gravesite of Texas State Representative Benjamin Franklin Williams.

Fort Bend Commissioner Dexter L. McCoy approved a $4 million initial investment this past February for the redevelopment and preservation of these historical black cemeteries in Kendleton, Texas, about 32 miles from Downtown Katy. The memorial will feature the final resting places of African Americans in both the Newman Chapel and Oak Hill Cemeteries, including the continued restoration of the grave site of Texas State Representative Benjamin Franklin Williams, a former slave who became the first African American to serve in the Texas Legislature. Juneteenth Plaza, a large monument within the Memorial, will  connect trails and a Convict Lease and Labor memorial garden to honor victims of the horrific Convict Lease program. 

The work to preserve black history and honor these burial sites continues on June 16 from 8:30 - 11:30 AM at Bates Allen Park in Kendleton. Recent heavy rains have allowed the brush and weeds to regrow, impeding access to the gravesites. Fort Bend County Precinct 4 Commissioner Dexter L. McCoy, Congressman Pete Olson, the Exchange Club of Sugar Land, the Missouri City/Sugar Land Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Christ Church Sugar Land, and the Alexander Hodge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will be on hand to lead the effort, and they need your help. Please signup at https://loom.ly/3kBQzNE by June 16 to volunteer.

By Tiffany Krenek, My Neighborhood News 
Tiffany Krenek has been on the My Neighborhood News team since August 2021. She is passionate about curating and sharing content that enriches the lives of our readers in a personal, meaningful way. A loving mother and wife, Tiffany and her family live in the West Houston/Cypress region.

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