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Historic District Burial Ground Gets Spruced Up

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By Cathy Carter

Some of the District's most prominent African Americans of the 19th century are buried at a historic cemetery in southeast D.C.

Its restoration is an ongoing effort. Over the years, the Woodlawn Cemetery had fallen victim to neglect. Headstones were toppled or covered with vines.

This weekend, volunteers used weed-whackers and cutting shears to clear the overgrowth. Tyrone General is the president of the cemetery's Perpetual Care Association.

"I believe that if people of today realized the richness of their ancestry, then it would help them stay focused on the richness of themselves and of the future," General says.

Scott Backer of the District is one of the volunteers. So how does he feel after a few hours of pulling weeds?

"Tired -- but good, very good," Backer says. "I know that I'm helping out and even if I don't come back this way in a while, I know that I've done something, hopefully, for the people here," he says.

Woodlawn Cemetery was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1996. Among the notables buried here: senators, congressmen and the first president of Howard University.

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