Five Black cemeteries have been found across Tampa Bay in the last three years, and there’s likely more. But for the communities around them, they were never really lost.
Eunive Massey lived next to Zion Cemetery in Tampa. She would pick wild flowers and put them on graves that had none. Robert Young worked as a funeral attendant at St. Matthews Baptist Church Cemetery in Clearwater. Today, both resting places have buildings and roads on top of them.
“History has been erased, and Zion Cemetery is an example of that,” archaeologist Rebecca O’Sullivan said.
The discovery of these cemeteries is forcing conversations between local communities and governments. The Tampa Housing Authority wants to memorialize Zion with a park that celebrates the history of Tampa’s first Black cemetery. And in St. Petersburg, ground-penetrating radar is being used to locate potential graves before the redevelopment of Tropicana Field gets under way.
Watch the rest of the Hidden Histories series.
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