Citizens fixing neglected cemetery

Volunteers clean up Mount Carmel Cemetery
An image from the Mount Carmel Cemetery.
An image from the Mount Carmel Cemetery.
The cemetery has not been maintained in years.
The cemetery has not been maintained in years.

WMC-TV) - Citizens are stepping up to repair a neglected Memphis cemetery.

In 1925, Tom Lee saved 32 people from drowning in the Mississippi River. The park there was named after him. Now, the cemetery where Lee was buried is blighted. Memphians are stepping in to clean up the Mount Carmel Cemetery.

"It's a historic black cemetery that's been neglected for a really long time," stated Attorney Raumesh Akbari.

Akbari's family business is helping to fix the overlooked cemetery. She hired a crew to begin clearing brush Saturday.

"One, we want to be able to serve the community and clean this up for the family members. Also, we have out-of-work lawn care men who are going to have a job because of this," explained Akbari.

Huegha Terry has a dozen family members buried at the cemetery. But, he hasn't been able to get to them because of overgrowth.

"My mother is (buried here). I don't know where (her grave) is," said Terry.

Action News 5 first told you about his dilemma in 2011.

"It really is a double-tragedy. You're grieving and dealing with that and then you can't find your loved one's grave." exclaimed Akbari.

The work crew is expecting it to take a month to clear away the overgrowth and repair the crumbled headstones.

"We've got overgrowth. Probably got snakes, logs in the area, wasps, and everything," stated Clifford Williams.

The cemetery's records were lost in a fire, so Terry does not know where his mother was buried. However, he is grateful that he will soon be able to visit his father's and other family member's graves.

"Well, a whole lot of people will be grateful for it," stated Terry.

When asked why she decided to help, her reason was simple.

"We just felt that this is our community. We need to come out here and make sure that this is taken care of," responded Akbari.

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