Watkins Street Cemetery needs help

Published 12:42 am Monday, November 7, 2016

The time of the year has come when we start making our list and checking it twice. We take hours upon hours thinking of what will go on our list after we take just as much time in the stores shopping to fulfill the list.

This year we, the Worthy Women of Watkins Street Cemetery, are asking to be added to your list. The Watkins Street Cemetery (17 acres located at the 1300 block of Watkins Street) is one of the oldest African-American cemeteries in the state of Mississippi. This cemetery has graves dating back as early as 1908, mass graves as well as individual graves for victims of the Rhythm Night Club fire of 1940, and our veterans (some of whom are Purple Heart recipients).

In the beginning, individual families, friends, and a number of organizations were caring for and maintaining the plots of those laid to rest. Into 2005, the Worthy Women of Watkins Street Cemetery Association, a nonprofit organization, was formed to preserve the beautification of the grounds which includes grass cutting, weed trimming, tree and limb removal, working on erosion and the erection a fallen headstones.

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Over the years, we have relied on donations in the form of monetary donations, equipment donations and individuals volunteering their time. Even though we have had people occasionally sent for community service through the Adams County court system, WIN Job Center and the Natchez-Adams School District’s AOP program, as well as church groups, local organizations in the community and employees from Isle of Capri Casino to come and help with the cleanup process, Worthy Women of Watkins Street would still periodically have to employ two to three additional people to assist with cleaning.

But as of last year, the support from those programs has gone down. Therefore ,we are forced to hire someone from the monetary donations, on a continuous basis. Adella Jackson, Dorothy Hill and AmeriCorps started on the very first categorization of the cemetery. At a later date, Dr. Ian Brown with the University of Alabama and Mr. in Mrs. Jim Barnett completed both categorization and mapping of the cemetery.

At this time, the Worthy Women of Watkins Street are asking to be added to your Christmas list in order to continue our endeavor. We are in need of any and all donations you can put in your heart to give. Whether it is lawn-care equipment, oil, gas, string, saws, wheelbarrows, pesticides, weed and grass killer and/or a monetary donation, anything will be greatly appreciated.

In order to make a donation please call Dorothy Sanders at 601-445-9431 or McKinley Barnes at 601-445-8298 or mail donations to P.O. Box 17893, Natchez, MS, 39122. Because we are a nonprofit organization, all monetary donations are tax-deductible

Dorothy Sanders is a member of the Worthy Women of Watkins Street Cemetery.