Local cemetery honors prominent African-American leaders for Black History Month

Historic African-American leaders in Louisville honored by local cemetery

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - So much of Louisville’s rich history is buried. People who helped make this city what it is are long gone. But there is a push to remember them, especially in the month of February.

Eastern Cemetery is located in the Highlands off Baxter Avenue next to Cave Hill Cemetery. February is Black History Month and volunteers at the cemetery are trying to bring awareness about the prominent people buried there.

A group called Friends of Eastern Cemetery, a non-profit volunteer group aiming to restore and maintain the location, has taken to social media on their “Friends of Eastern Cemetery” Facebook page to highlight some of black Louisvillians buried at Eastern.

“We have always felt that the people here are very important, they are what motivate us,” Friends of Eastern Cemetery board member Savannah Garr said. “We think that their stories, as well as their graves, deserve to be preserved.”

The group posts a picture on Facebook, a brief bio, and if they can, a picture of their headstone. People include Dr. John Lattimore, a physician and civic leader who was born in 1874 and died in 1939.

They’re also honoring Rudell Stitch, you may recognize him from his hometown banner at the 4th Street Live! parking garage along 5th Street. Stitch was a boxer and died in 1960 while trying to save a friend from drowning in the Ohio River.

Not far from Stitch is Albert Meyzeek.

“I’m sure you have heard from Meyzeek Middle School,” Garr said. “It was named for Albert Meyzeek. He was a prominent African-American educator in the city of Louisville. He was civic leader, he was an activist.”

Rudell Stich was a boxer and died in 1960 while trying to save a friend from drowning in the Ohio River.
Rudell Stich was a boxer and died in 1960 while trying to save a friend from drowning in the Ohio River. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

There are many more prominent people, like Fannie Givens, laid to rest at Eastern. She was the first African-American policewoman in Louisville. Alfred Carroll was a civil rights leader. Dr. William Simmons was the second president of what would later become Simmons College of Kentucky.

Garr hopes that by sharing their stories, they’ll peak people’s curiosity into history.

The group posts of a photo of the prominent African-American figure buried at the cemetery along with a short bio.
The group posts of a photo of the prominent African-American figure buried at the cemetery along with a short bio. (Source: Facebook)

"The response on social media has been pretty incredible," Garr said. "There is a whole new audience for the Friends of Eastern Cemetery."

For more information on the Friends of Eastern Cemetery and how you can help them go to their Facebook page by clicking here.

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