Lane Street Project: moving forward.

After the open forum, Mayor Carlton Stevens and Councilwoman Gillettia Morgan asked me to provide a short list of immediate do’s at Vick Cemetery. On May 24 and 29, I emailed them this:

  1. order a land survey to establish the four corners of the cemetery
  2. organize a “reconsecration” of the cemetery (Rev. Carlton Best has begun assembling local pastors and working on a program for such an occasion)
  3. order an independent investigation of the removal, storage and disappearance of the headstones removed from Vick Cemetery in or about 1996, with results to be shared publicly
  4. install surveillance cameras near the entrance to Vick Cemetery to monitor illegal dumping and access by wheeled vehicles
  5. deposit two copies of the ground-penetrating radar survey report at Wilson County Public Library

This list is not exclusive. It merely scratches the surface of the restorative work needed at Vick. We invite the City to get on the right side of this disgraceful situation right now.

As a reminder, per Article 22 of North Carolina Laws and Statutes Regarding Cemeteries, § 14-149. Desecrating, plowing over or covering up graves; desecrating human remains,

(a) It is a Class I felony, without authorization of law or the consent of the surviving spouse or next of kin of the deceased, to knowingly and willfully:

(1) Open, disturb, destroy, remove, vandalize or desecrate any casket or other repository of any human remains, by any means including plowing under, tearing up, covering over or otherwise obliterating or removing any grave or any portion thereof.

(2) Take away, disturb, vandalize, destroy, tamper with, or deface any tombstone, headstone, monument, grave marker, grave ornamentation, or grave artifacts erected or placed within any cemetery to designate the place where human remains are interred or to preserve and perpetuate the memory and the name of any person. This subdivision shall not apply to the ordinary maintenance and care of a cemetery.

Legally, the City is standing on exceedingly shaky ground in its attempts to deflect responsibility for the desecration of Vick Cemetery. Morally, its messaging is reprehensible.

Reverend Best, with those pastors who rise to this occasion — and that ought to be every one of them in Wilson — will see to the second request with or without the City. We don’t need permission to honor our dead.

We will pursue the remaining requests — actually, demands — and all other appropriate forms of redress in every available forum.

This detail from an image published in Ground-Penetrating Radar Survey to Prospect for Unmarked Graves in the Vick Cemetery (31WL384) shows the relative depth of disturbed ground at the site. The yellow and red areas highlight disturbance detected 0 to 30 centimeters (about 12 inches) below the surface.


  1. In light and honor of my family’s history in Wilson dating back to at least 1894 when my grandpa was born and raised my dad and his 7 siblings in Wilson, I fully concur with these demands as stated in this post .

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