Oakland adopts restoration of historic African American cemetery

OAKLAND, Fla. – An Oakland woman has spent nearly 20 years advocating for restoration of the town’s historic African American cemetery, which town officials said was used in the 1800s before being closed in the mid-1900s.

Betty Wade attended Tuesday’s Oakland town hall meeting, in which officials adopted a study regarding the cemetery in anticipation of a new $85,000 restoration project funded by state grants.

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“We’ve been at this since 2004, 2005. It’s been a long time, and thank you,” Wade said.

The town of Oakland said the new $85,000 for cemetery restoration will help them preserve an important part of their town’s history. Much of the work will consist of clearing out overgrown vegetation.

Stephen Koontz, Oakland’s town manager, said plans include constructing a new portion of fence, clearing vegetation and putting up new burial markers.

“It’s an asset of the town that’s an important part of the town, and we really are just trying to have that respect for that property,” Koontz said.

Mona Phipps said she’s been working alongside Wade for several years, helping in the restoration projects.

“When we started learning the connections to the town and the history of the town came from, a lot of it came from those buried in that graveyard,” Phipps said.

Wade said she hopes the cemetery becomes a place where loved ones can respectfully honor their relatives.

“Small markers and just a quiet place to go. That would mean people who may know of someone buried there, they can make an appointment to go out there and sit,” Wade said.

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