Evergreen Negro Cemetery is located in Houston’s Fifth Ward on the west side of Lockwood Drive at IH 10 on Market Street between Calles Street, Lockwood Drive, and Sakowitz Street. The cemetery, divided by Lockwood Drive into two sections, contains approximately 5.58 acres out of Lot 7 of the Harris & Wilson Survey (A-32) in Harris County and is believed to be the third oldest African American cemetery in Houston. At one time, the site was owned by one of the founders, Fifth Ward resident, businessman, and former slave A. K. Kelley. Kelley established the cemetery with two other persons, Reverend Edward Lee and W. B. Zinkey. After Kelley’s death on November 26, 1928, he was buried in the family plot in Evergreen Negro Cemetery.
The cemetery burials date from approximately 1887 to 1950. Those interred in the cemetery include former slaves, Buffalo soldiers, World War I veterans, and other residents of the Fifth Ward. In 1914, two of the only few black officers with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office were killed by fellow officers in what has been reported as a case of mistaken identity. Those officers, Deputy Arthur Taylor (who was appointed as a special deputy of the sheriff’s office the day before he was killed) and Detective Isaac “Ike” Parsons, were buried in Evergreen Negro Cemetery.
In 1960 the city of Houston sought to expand Lockwood Drive from Sonora to Liberty Road. The expansion split the cemetery and caused the bodies of 490 persons to be moved and re-interred in other cemeteries. By the 1970s the cemetery was totally overgrown with dense vegetation. By the 1990s efforts began to reclaim and preserve the historic graveyard. In 1995 a nonprofit organization called Project RESPECT along with area universities and students began work to clean up and restore the cemetery. Fifth Ward community efforts to raise awareness for the cemetery continued into the 2000s. On July 31, 2009, the Texas Historical Commission declared the site a “Historic Texas Cemetery.” Various community events and revitalization activities, such as a Flag Day celebration in 2016, highlighted the cemetery’s historic significance in the community.