DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- People who drive along Durham's Fayetteville Street or Cornwallis Road can see Durham's historic Beechwood Cemetery, a massive final resting place that occupies 25 acres beside the White Rock Baptist Church. But some may not know much about the people buried there, many of whom made history in the Bull City.
"Our founding fathers of Black Wall Street, the educators, the entrepreneurs, and all of the people that made Durham great," said Melva Rigel, board president of Preservation Durham. "A lot of people are unaware of our beginnings."
Rigel and Beverly Evans, a Preservation Durham board member, invite those who are curious about names like Spaulding, Shepard, Scarborough and other notables found on headstones to a guided tour of the historic cemetery April 22-23. They'll visit more than 200 graves located in the oldest part of the cemetery established for African Americans in Durham during the 1920s.
"Tobacco workers that came from other cities, surrounding counties in North Carolina that wanted better lives for their children, and themselves, that helped build Durham. They're buried out here, and we'll be talking about them and their contributions and how they emphasized education," Evans said.
"It is important for our citizens of Durham and the general public to know, that we do not walk past any marker." said Rigel. "We will say, at the very least, their names. Because everyone out here is someone's loved one."
Preservation Durham encourages those interested in the tour to register online.
"They can go to our website, they can click on the Beechwood Tour, and they can buy their tickets online. They're quite affordable, as well as this being a nonprofit it is also tax deductible," Rigel said.
Evans said she and Rigel have an estimate of the time participants can expect to spend in the cemetery, and they hinted that the commentary will be respectful with occasional amusing observations.
"Two hours, We have the tour down to two hours," Evans said.
Again, the tours are scheduled for April 22-23 starting at 2 p.m. Click here to register for a spot.