Volunteers help clean up Irving slave cemetery

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More than one hundred volunteers helped clean a historic burial site for former slaves in Irving on Monday.

The clean-up at Bear Creek Cemetery was held on Martin Luther King Jr., Day as a way to honor King’s contributions and preserve a North Texas heritage site.

Sherry Johnson, a researcher and genealogist, says slaves and former slaves started being buried on the plot of land about 1845 and continued into the 1950s. Johnson said 200 slaves and family members were buried there, but only 12 of them still have markers.

Volunteers on Monday cleared brush from the ground and chopped and dug up stumps and tree roots.

“It’s refreshing is what it is. Sometimes you hear so much negativity going on in the world, in the United States and we have people from all different backgrounds here, all different races. Not caring about that, just caring about coming here and caring for this,” said volunteer Darin Luman.

Anthony Bond has been the cemetery’s unofficial caretaker since 1995.

“To come out of their comfort zone on a cold morning to clean up an old black slave cemetery? That’s incredible,” Bond said.

All of the volunteers said it felt good to help out and they enjoyed seeing people of all ethnicities helping out.

“I just really think it’s so great how everything has really changed and how we’re all coming together as a community,” said volunteer Nevyn Johnson.

Bond said Monday’s turnout was one of the largest he’s ever seen for a clean-up effort.