Amazon’s Black Employee Network Donates $10K and Commits to Help Restore Historic Locust Hill Cemetery in Trenton

February 16, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Amazon employees representing the company’s Black Employee Network from two facilities in Florence and West Deptford are providing a helping hand to the Locust Hill Cemetery project in Trenton.

As part of a partnership announcement, Amazon’s Black Employee Network donated $10,000 and committed to helping restoration efforts of the historic Locust Hill Cemetery and the completion of a Black history museum on Hart Avenue in Trenton.

“We’re going to use this as the centerpiece and expand out to improve the housing on the street, the  landscape, the artscape of the street, the lighting, and the parking,” said Algernon Ward, Jr. Ward is the president of the 6th Regiment United States Colored Troops reenactors which are leading the charge to restore the Locust Hill Cemetery and Hart Avenue. 

The Locust Hill Cemetery is Trenton’s oldest and largest segregated cemetery. Algernon believes that more than 200 people are buried at the site, including Black veterans of the Civil War.

The initial outreach from Amazon’s Black Employee Network to Ward came from DJ Weltch, an area manager at Amazon’s Florence facility and Dr. Shirley Gaines, an Amazon frontline employee. Both Weltch and Gaines have ties to Trenton and are leading efforts to grow Amazon’s involvement in New Jersey.

“When this Locust Hill project was brought to my attention, I was excited. Came out, did a tour, and I was really excited not only about what I saw, but what I heard. Because like many others, I wasn’t even aware of this cemetery for our Black military,” said Dr. Gaines.

Dr. Gaines added “so as a result of working for a company that is always giving back to the community and has a great deal of community involvement…I am so honored and appreciative for what Amazon does for communities.”

“Regularly we talk about how we make an impact. I did not know about this location,” Weltch said. “I was born in this city, lived in this city, worked in this city as a social worker, graduated college in this city. And had no idea that we had this cemetery here for 10 Civil War veterans and another 190 that aren’t recognized yet because the location has fallen into disrepair…Once I heard about it I jumped on it immediately.”

Trenton civic leaders including Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, Trenton Housing and Economic Development Director Andre Daniels, and Bishop Sidney Gaines were all in attendance for this announcement event. 

Gusciora lauded Ward for leading the restoration of Locust Hill Cemetery and detailed the importance of his work.

“This will be part of the African American History Trail, along with the Carver Center and the Higbee School and all the other great things that happened in the City of Trenton. This is really for the next generation. We couldn’t do it without the great partners we have with Amazon, the East Trenton Collaborative, Andre Daniels from our Housing and Economic Development and all the Trentonians that have come out and really support this effort.”  

Ward estimates that the restoration work and the museum will cost anywhere from between $350,000 and $840,000.

Ward concluded the event by stating, “this is the beginning, we are rolling!”

To learn more about the Locust Hill Cemetery Project and Museum, you can visit: https://locusthillafricancemetery-museum.com/