The Ike Shade Cemetery in Haysi, Va. and the beginning of the SWVA Black Cemetery Collective

Willie Dodson will tell his firsthand account of the events that lead to the registration of the Ike Shade Cemetery, and the organization of the SWVA Black Cemetery Project.

In the course of exploring a potential abandoned mine land/ brownfields remediation project in 2016, a community member in the small town of Haysi, Va. showed community organizer Willie Dodson an abandoned African American cemetery in the woods adjacent to a 20,000+ ton pile of coal mining waste along the banks of the Russell Fork River, a few miles upstream from the Breaks Interstate Park.

This prompted Dodson to reach out to scholars and others in search of someone who could document this cemetery and the now scattered community whose ancestors it holds. The initial results of this outreach was the disclosure of four more abandoned or nearly abandoned black cemeteries spread out across Lee, Wise, Dickenson, and Russell Counties in far SWVA.