During this Black History Month, people who care for an isolated Irving cemetery for former slaves are rejoicing over a small path that other places take for granted.
Shelton’s Bear Creek Cemetery will finally have a sidewalk on which to access the place.
It is a result of teamwork between cemetery supporters, the City of Irving, University of Texas at Arlington landscape architecture students and neighboring property owners granting public easements.
Over the years, volunteers helped maintain the cemetery, but it is very difficult to access. It’s perched high on a hill, overlooking the George Bush Turnpike on the west. It’s surrounded by an apartment complex and a new housing development on other sides.
Jaime Simon, 77, visits the resting place regularly to pay tribute to his great, great, grandfather who is buried there. Simon said his ancestor donated the land as a burial ground for freed slaves.
“This is a sacred ground for people that made the Bear Creek community possible when they came here before us,” Simon said.
In declining health, Simon walks very slowly these days on the rugged dirt path to the cemetery.
“It's hard to walk for old peoples like me,” he said. “What we need is a sidewalk from the main gate.”
University of Texas at Arlington Landscape Architecture students adopted the cemetery last year. They created a website on Bear Creek area history, with a vision of what a future path to the historic cemetery might look like.
The City of Irving is helping to make the path a reality.
“I think it's just a great treasure that's in the city,” said Joe Moses, the Irving Parks and Recreation Director.