LEXINGTON, Ky. — University of Kentucky Ag Equine Programs, in conjunction with the UK chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, MANRRS, hosted a student-driven Spring into Service event at the African Cemetery No. 2 in Lexington. The day of service was sponsored by Central Kentucky Ag Credit.
“Spring into Service was a unique event that allowed us to learn about the African American heritage within the equine community and also allowed our students to give back to the local community,” said Kristen Wilson, academic coordinator within UK’s Equine Science and Management undergraduate degree program and advisor for the program’s student leadership team, the Wildcat Wranglers.
The community service event, coordinated by the Wildcat Wranglers, contributed to the upkeep and overall enhancement of the local cemetery. The same student team planned and organized the inaugural Equine Week of Service during the fall 2020 semester.
The old Benevolent Society No. 2 Cemetery, now known as African Cemetery No. 2, was originally established in a rural setting, according to the cemetery’s website. It is in the process of being preserved and restored.
The cemetery was the first burial site of Isaac Burns Murphy, winner of three Kentucky Derbys and the first African American inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1955. It also holds the remains of Oliver Lewis, the jockey who won the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875; Abraham Perry, the trainer of Joe Cotton, winner of the Kentucky, Tennessee, Coney Island and five other derby races in 1885; and James “Soup” Perkins, who tied a record as being the youngest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby in 1895. More information about the cemetery can be found at http://www.africancemeteryno2.org/.
The service event brought together more than 50 student, alumni, faculty and staff volunteers for a day to clean up and make landscaping improvements to the property.
“This was by far one of the best organized and hardest working group of students who have ever volunteered in the cemetery and their efforts show in the improvements to the grounds they made during their visit. We are deeply appreciative of their efforts,” said Mark Coyne, African Cemetery No. 2 chair and a faculty member within the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.