A Brief History of the Cemetery

African Cemetery No. 2 is located on east Seventh Street. The cemetery is approximately eight acres in size and contains over 5,000 graves of which only 1,200 are identified and fewer than 600 contain identifiable markers. There have been no burials since 1974. The cemetery and its care is under the direction of African Cemetery No. 2, Inc., a non-profit board.

Though burials occurred in African Cemetery No. 2 as early as the 1820's, the land was first purchased and chartered as a burial ground by The Colored Peoples Union Benevolent Society No. 2 in 1869. This society also founded the Colored Fair in 1859. Similar societies were common throughout the south for community building after the Civil War. The society cared for the cemetery until the 1930's after which a period of decline occurred, which also corresponded to the demise of the Colored Fair.

The cemetery was largely neglected for 30 to 40 years, although burials continued to occur. In the 1960's, the cemetery was renovated, after which it again entered a period of decline for 10 to 15 years. In 1973, another effort was made to restore the cemetery, which culminated in 1979-80 with the help of then Mayor Jim Amato to uncover, restore, and mark the existing gravesites. The brick pillars in front and existing fencing are part of that effort.

The year 1979 was also when perpetual care of the cemetery was handed over to a non-profit committee, African Cemetery No. 2, Inc. For the next 20 years unfortunately, consistent care was lacking. Continual vandalism occurred, and encroachment of the property on either side occurred.

Three years ago, revival of interest in cemetery care, spearheaded by Thomas Mundy a concerned citizen and John Jones of the Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS), prompted formation of a new board with a wide spectrum of participants from Lexington and the African American community. The current board is developing plans for perpetual care, preservation, writtenhistories, and an educational resource center. We need your help in terms of donations (time, effort, or money). Join the cemetery campaign!