History or heresy? Texas woman wants to preserve segregated cemetery

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A lifelong McKinney, Texas resident is fighting to preserve a once-segregated cemetery as a historic site.

The Ross Cemetery just off Highway 5 between McKinney and Fairview was established in the 1800s as a segregated burial site for black people. In recent years, the battle has been just to keep it clean.People used it as an illegal dump site, and trash and brush covered many of the graves of former slaves, veterans and residents of McKinney.

Several members of Flo Henry’s family are buried there, from her grandfather to the uncles she once watched work there as gravediggers.

Henry says it’s the community’s responsibility to take care of the graves of its former residents. Her efforts to clean the site have spurred a lot of community involvement. The city of McKinney provides dumpsters, the Collin County Sheriff’s Department provides manpower and a McKinney Olive Garden has donated cash and volunteers.

Even teenagers in McKinney’s Job Corp program, along with workers from local churches, have pitched in to cut grass, rake leaves and pick up trash. To make the cemetery a historic site, Henry must finish identifying all of the people buried there, a task already 10 years in the making.