BRADENTON — Last night we told you about an abandoned cemetery in Bradenton where a coffin was pulled out of the ground when a tree fell during Hurricane Irma.
Nightside reporter Mark Rivera learned the man's name - it's Willie Parson.
And Mark is making sure Mr. Parson's final resting place is restored.
A full day after we discovered Willie Parson's grave open to the elements, the vault cracked, the coffin up, there's been no change in the Adams Roger Cemetery.
But thanks to our reporting, Manatee County is sending an inspector to see what can be done.
We worked all day to try to track down the Parson family, and we finally found this. It's Willie Parson's obituary from 1983.
He was survived by five nieces and three nephews in 1983.
We found some numbers for them, but no luck.
But the condition of Parson's grave and the overall neglect of the cemetery is no surprise for Ederick Johnson.
“At one point, you know, let's just be real. A person like me, 60 years ago, could not be buried at Manasota. Even next door to Adams Roger Cemetery. I could not be buried in Fogartyville. Because of the color of my skin,” Johnson said.
It started as a segregated cemetery. All African American. Now, it's abandoned with damage from Hurricane Irma and no one to fix it.
“For us not to take ownership and to take pride in where our loved ones are being buried is just heartfelt,” he said. “I want to say thank you, Mark, for taking on this story and taking it to the next level. If it wasn't for you I don't know.”
Manatee County will take a look at what can be done for Willie's grave, but Ederick says it's going to take the entire community to get this cemetery where it needs to be.
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