Over the past two years, a survey was conducted and uncovered 58 probable graves and 63 possible graves, but the search isn’t over yet. Lt. Laura Anderson says a team will be canvassing the grounds with radar and cadaver dogs to secure any evidence of additional graves. “That’s essentially so we can make sure that we’re not forgetting anybody,” Anderson said.
It has been over three years since MacDill officials revealed the possibility of an African American cemetery, and base officials said they want to work with the community on the best way to honor those who are buried there.” We know obviously there was wrong done in the past, but we’re working together with our community members,” Anderson said. “We want to make what was wrong right.”
“In this case, that didn’t happen and hasn’t happened since 1938, 1939, when the base began to be built.”
The cemetery was destroyed between those years while the base was being built, with headstones being removed but bodies still being present beneath undeveloped land to this day. President of the NAACP Hillsborough County branch, Yvette Lewis, celebrates the base’s efforts thus far but feels more work can be done, feeling the cemetery should be memorialized. “No one is saying the current administration or the current people living had a hand in it, but they do have a hand in correcting the wrong,” Lewis said.
“They do have a hand in having the conversation and talking about it and telling the story and making sure the story is told correctly and properly. They do have a hand in memorializing it.”
Source: Black Enterprise