Watkins preservation group seeking to form

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, June 19, 2012

NATCHEZ — One Natchez resident has taken it upon herself to start a preservation group in hopes of getting the Watkins Street Cemetery some much-needed care.

Resident Thelma White, whose grandfather is buried at the historic cemetery, is forming a group to raise money for surveying, fencing, tree trimming, drainage work and grave upkeep at the cemetery.

White helped form the Worthy Women of Watkins Street Cemetery to raise money to keep the grass cut at the cemetery, but White said the group did not want to expand so a new group is needed.

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“We’ve had no group and no money to do it, so we must organize to get this done,” White said.

The cemetery, White said, has gained attention from local, state and out-of-state organizations, but she said the cemetery is still without an organization to upkeep the historic graves.

Darrell White, director of the Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture Museum, has said many black Natchezians are buried in the cemetery of questionable private ownership because they were once not allowed to be buried at the Natchez City Cemetery during the Jim Crow era.

Thelma White said she has talked to quite a few people who are interested in joining the cemetery preservation group. The group will have an organizational meeting at noon Saturday at Rose Hill Baptist Church on Madison Street.

Anyone interested in joining the group should call Thelma White at 601-442-9140.

“It’s time for someone to do something before the cemetery is completely lost,” she said.