Tammy Mutasa/Mesquite Journalist
The City of Mesquite and the NAACP need $90,000 to place an official marker at the site of a cemetery hidden between a railroad track and drainage ditch since 1904.
Mesquite and the Mesquite NAACP want to build a memorial to raise awareness of a historic cemetery.
About 80 African-American workers of the Ferris Brick Company and their family members were buried in the early 1900s. The Mesquite brick company opened in 1904 and closed in the 1950s.
The Brickyard Cemetery is now an open field hidden between a railroad track and a drainage ditch. It does not have an official marker memorializing the site.
Bill Holliman, of the Mesquite NAACP, and the city want to raise $90,000 to erect a memorial for public awareness.
"What we have here is an opportunity to build a memorial for a group of people who worked under adverse conditions and survived," said Holliman, the leader of the project.
The city of Mesquite acquired ownership of the Brickyard Cemetery and the surrounding acreage in 2001 and has been maintaining it.
But over the years, people have vandalized and thrown trash in the area. Just this week, a makeshift memorial marking the cemetery was taken down, and there are no leads on what happened to it.
"It's an unknown," said Cliff Kehely, of the city of Mesquite. "If you haven't been in the city for the past 50 years, you wouldn't know that this cemetery exists at all. It's one of those hidden historical facts about Mesquite that this cemetery was here, that the brickyard was here, and that's one of our goals with the memorial, is to raise awareness of Mesquite's history."
For some residents, it's about putting a face to those who are long forgotten.
"If we don't recognize that someone built us up, then it will be history that's lost," Winston Solomon said.
Once the memorial is erected, the City and the NAACP will work with groups to restore some of the headstones and artifacts.