Final Public Cleanup for Giddens Cemetery Slated for Sept. 10

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Volunteers work to clear part of historic George and Addie Giddens Cemetery in June 2022.

BY KENDYL HOLLINGSWORTH

KENDYLH@
OPELIKAOBSERVER.COM

OPELIKA —

The community is invited to the historic George and Addie Giddens Cemetery for a final public cleanup effort Sept. 10 from 9 a.m. to noon.

The African American cemetery, located on a 7-acre lot in the 2500 block of Frederick Road, consists of three sites with evidence of more than 120 burials.

Volunteers made significant progress clearing sites 1 and 2 in June, but according to Auburn University Professor and cemetery researcher Robert Bubb, this final public effort will focus on clearing the southern border of burial site No. 3.

The service will open at 9 a.m. with a welcome, followed by a brief overview of the site’s history and a moment of silence. Work will begin at approximately 9:35 and run for about two hours. A light lunch will be provided after.

Bubb said there will be some tools available, but volunteers are encouraged to bring work gloves and the following tools if they have them:

• string trimmers for weeds and low vines,

• pruners and loppers for the south border of burial site 3 and

• tarps or old, sturdy blankets for moving debris.

The Giddens cemetery garnered attention in May this year as the subject of a land dispute. Carmilla Tindal, president of the Lee County Cemetery Preservation Commission, posted about the potential land development on social media to “call people to action” and help preserve the space.

“These are sacred spaces that deserve a certain amount of respect, and they deserve dignity,” she said.

Tindal and Bubb met with the developer, landowners and other community leaders soon after to work toward a resolution.

“We had a positive meeting and agreed to work more closely with the goal of demonstrating how people can come together and achieve a common goal,” said Shey Knight, one of the landowners.

Both Tindal and Knight worked with volunteers to clear the first two sites in June.

“George and Addie Giddens were successful during a time when society made it difficult for African Americans to get ahead,” Bubb said in May. “In response to their success, they looked out to and after their community … I think when we realize the blessings that we have received in our life journey, maybe we can also reach out to others and help them on their journeys like the Giddens did.”

The cemetery is located next to Store Room Fastener in Opelika. There will be some parking in front of the lot with additional parking in the Store Room Fastener parking lot.

For more information, contact Bubb at 334-332-0059 or robert.r.bubb@auburn.edu.

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