Danville should honor African-Americans by taking ownership of cemetery

Published 7:57 am Saturday, February 17, 2018

Dear Editor,

The City of Danville, rightfully, is considering honoring the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Interestingly, Moneta Sleet Jr., whose father was born in Perryville, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of a grieving Coretta Scott King — the first African-American ever awarded that prize.

Over the past several years, Danville and Boyle County have both supported events dealing with African-American history in the city and county, for which we are totally grateful. Much of what we have done could not have been done without the support of Judge-Executive Harold McKinney, the Boyle County Fiscal Court and Danville Mayor Mike Perros and the city commission.

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But maybe, after 25 years of fits and starts and nothing serious being accomplished, maybe the City of Danville could honor Dr. King by restoring and maintaining the Meadow Lane African-American Cemetery in west Danville.

Years ago, a city council member noted that it would take many years and many thousands of dollars to find out who owns the Meadow Lane Cemetery. Yet a plat done in 2002 of the area (PVA Office, Plat 1269-B) shows “Unknown Owner” and a 10-foot access easement to the cemetery.

In effect, NO ONE owns the cemetery. And the City of Danville could easily, under eminent domain, take ownership (KRSA, 97.540), IF IT CHOSE TO, and KRSA 381.720, the city can declare abandoned cemeteries to be taken over by the city.

And frankly, NOT choosing to do so makes one wonder why not…

The city can apparently spend thousands of dollars on new directional signs (which are, admittedly, very attractive). But the oldest African-American cemetery within city limits? The city supposedly doesn’t have the money for that. One wonders why.

Several of us are working to see that this cemetery receives its proper care and concern; we have laid out plans for working there, for assigning ownership of the cemetery (through a quit-claim deed) and notifying all abutters of the property of our intention.

In the end, Danville must honor Dr. King and its African-American residents, past and present, by taking over the Meadow Lane African American Cemetery. We will strive to work with the City of Danville to accomplish that goal.

Michael J. Denis

President, Boyle County Genealogical and Historical Society Inc.

Member, Danville Boyle County African-American Historical Society

Secretary, Central Kentucky African-American Cemetery Association LLC