'This is dignity at its best:' Volunteers clean up Carson cemetery after unexpected closure

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Saturday, August 12, 2023
Volunteers working to revitalize Carson cemetery after sudden closure
A group in Carson is working to revitalize a cemetery that closed last month after its owner became severely ill: "These women have literally saved a cemetery and helped families."

CARSON, Calif. (KABC) -- A group in Carson is working to revitalize a cemetery that closed last month after its owner became severely ill.

Last month, residents began asking questions when they noticed the gates at the Lincoln Park Memorial Cemetery on Central Avenue were suddenly closed.

Some families noticed a sign from the city of Carson, saying the cemetery was unreachable and that anyone wishing to file a complaint should reach out to the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau. The cemetery ended up closing after its owner was no longer able to care for the 20-acre property.

READ MORE | Families looking for answers after Carson cemetery suddenly closes: 'We're in the dark'

A cemetery in Carson has closed with no apparent warning.

Now, residents whose family members are buried in the cemetery are leading a large community cleanup effort.

"This is all we know as far as a cemetery, so it breaks our heart to even see," said La Tanya McGee of Palmdale, who said she has dozens of loved ones buried there. "I believe with all of us coming together for our loved ones so they can rest in peace ... it will get back."

McGee stopped by Saturday with her grandson and other family members to help in the cleanup effort.

Valeria Holyfield and other community members worked to get the cemetery reopened by alerting city and state officials. Her organization Serenity Grace Voice for the Resting is hoping the community will help restore the historically Black cemetery.

"We want it to be a beautiful park so that when you come to visit your loved ones, you're at a nice beautiful park that would make you feel good. Right now, it is in really bad shape," she said.

Earlier this week, the owner surrendered its license, allowing the state to step in and begin the process of turning the property over to the county or city to manage.

Carson Mayor Pro-Tem Jawane Hilton said he helped get the cemetery's water back on in time for the cleanup.

"This is amazing," he said. "These women have literally saved a cemetery and helped families. This is dignity at its best, this is restoring community at its best and I cheer them."

Volunteers like Carl Kemp and his 11-year-old daughter Maya stopped by to remember and honor those resting at the cemetery, from cleaning gravestones to mowing the weeds away.

"We want to do our part to help restore this area, bring dignity to the souls so they can rest in peace and the folks who come to visit them don't have to feel like in 2023, they're second class citizens in Southern California," he said.

Volunteers will likely not be able to finish the major cleanup this weekend. The group said they're hoping to host more cleanup days in the future.