Woodlawn Cemetery in Compton, now Woodlawn Celestial Gardens, is popping trauma into triumph

Celestina Bishop turned her ache into objective after discovering that the grounds her mom and household had been buried had been deserted at Woodlawn Cemetery

Celestina Bishop has been using a wave of feelings for the final 19 months. On Mom’s Day 2020, she visited Woodlawn Cemetery in Compton, California, solely to search out the grounds the place her mom and household had been buried had been deserted. 

Overgrown weeds and tree branches had been protecting her mom’s grave and tombstone, which was sufficient to drive Bishop to tears. After posting a heart-wrenching video to Fb, displaying an entire cemetery in disarray, Bishop set to work.

“Once I got here to scrub up I used to be not cleansing up only for my household, I used to be cleansing up for everyone,” Bishop shared in an interview with theGrio. “We began on the entrance and the plan was to work our approach round — one part at a time — which is how I bought the identify of one among my non-profits.”

Celestina Bishop thegrio.com
Celestina Bishop with volunteer Rocio Alvarado (Credit score Bishop)

When she was 2 years previous, Bishop was the one one spared after her mom and three sisters had been killed of their South Central house. Bishop undertook such an enormous duty as a result of she feels deeply linked to the cemetery the place her household is buried. 

Initially, Bishop tried contacting Woodlawn’s proprietor, however the quantity listed had been disconnected. When she did lastly make contact, he noticed the progress she was making and allowed her full entry to the property. 

“I didn’t clear up the cemetery myself, it was a wide range of folks. I spearheaded the motion and if you end up an incredible chief folks observe,” stated Bishop. “Not observe as a result of they’re searching for one thing to look as much as, they’re searching for one thing to be part of.”

Celestina Bishop thegrio.com
Celestina Bishop with L.A County Assessor Jeff Prang (Picture through Jeff Prang)

As Bishop began to turn into conversant in the world of cemetery administration and bookkeeping, she says she doesn’t put all of the blame on the earlier proprietor.  

The thought of her proudly owning the cemetery got here up actually early within the restoring course of. The earlier proprietor informed Bishop that he was seeking to donate the property to an area non-profit. She requested him to provide her three months to get her paperwork collectively to kind her non-profit. 

One essential element was disregarded, nevertheless, which was that the property had an infinite again tax invoice. Bishop was in a position to get a portion of those charges lowered however was nonetheless pressured to provide you with $20,000. 

She initially felt disenchanted and betrayed by the earlier proprietor however fortunately, she was in a position to repay the taxes in October. 

A rededication ceremony is deliberate for Jan. 2022 to honor household and buddies buried on the cemetery. The day can be set to formally announce the brand new identify, in addition to the profitable transferring of the property to Bishop’s non-profit, Woodlawn Celestial Gardens. 

Sadly, the Metropolis of Compton has not accepted a parking allow request. Bishop says the town continues to supply little help or help for her endeavors of saving an area cemetery. 

Based in 1870 as Compton Rural Cemetery, Woodlawn is without doubt one of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles County and was named a cultural landmark in 1946. The cemetery is a resting place for folks starting from civil struggle veterans to Compton pioneers and native households. 

Los Angeles Black Panther Minister of Protection Alprentice Bunchy Carter is buried at Woodlawn, together with Francis Townsend, who spearheaded the idea that will turn into social safety.

“You may have entertainers, negro league gamers, actors, and my household who’s buried on this cemetery,” stated Bishop. “And nobody cared.”

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