WGXC-90.7 FM

Ownership of Kingston's 19th-century African burial ground transferred to heritage group

Feb 26, 2021 3:15 pm

Paul Kirby is reporting for the Daily Freeman ownership of the 19th-century African burial ground in midtown Kingston was transferred February 25, from the Kingston Land Trust to the African-American heritage group Harambee. A ceremonial deed transfer was held on the property at 157 Pine Street where the burial ground is located. This is hallowed ground, the Rev. G. Modele Clarke, pastor of the New Progressive Baptist Church in Kingston, told the roughly 40 people who were on hand to witness the deed transfer. According to the Kingston Land Trust, the deed contains a conservation easement granted by Harambee to protect the site in perpetuity. The land trust said in a prepared statement, “This protection ensures that the ancestors buried there will never again be forgotten.” An account by the land trust says records about the site date to 1750, when the trustees of Kingston identified a section of the common area outside of the walled settlement to be used as a burial ground for enslaved Africans, who at the time were denied church burial. The trust said in the mid-1800s, the land was portioned off into private property and used first as a lumberyard and then as a private residence. "This is the day that the Lord has made," Harambee Executive Director Tyrone Wilson said. "...This land is our ancestors’ final resting place, and they can surely rejoice that they are now officially in the care of their own, and we can now create a space of education on their sacrifices that allowed us to be here today,” he added. “Thank you all for putting land back into black hands." Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.