SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Wednesday marks the first day of Black History Month.

Volunteers in Springfield are currently figuring out the best way to improve a historic African-American cemetery in town.

City council members just recently approved $100,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to make renovations to the Lincoln Memorial Cemetery.

Now, steps are being taken to make those upgrades.

“We’re going to have some trees taken out that are old, dead, dead trees,” said Shelia Burton who is a cemetery board volunteer. “Some of them have fallen over on some of the stones. That’s a must that we do that. Have some of the stones set up, some of the stones cleaned.”

The Lincoln Memorial Cemetery is more than 100 years old. The cemetery is a resting place for some of Springfield’s oldest African-American families.

“They said that we couldn’t be buried at a lot of places, a lot of cemeteries,” said Burton. “The majority of the people, the black families, were buried at Lincoln.”

The cemetery board is in desperate need of bids from companies to do these renovations.

Springfield Councilwoman Monica Horton said she hopes the approval of the funds from the city will help send a message to the community.

“I think this tells how we honor dignity in death, and dignity in grief and loss, in the wake of post-pandemic related issues that have disproportionately affected the African American community,” said Horton.

The upgrades should begin in the spring into the summer.