Why Can’t We Have Nice Things?

Flushing has found a way to honor our forefathers and mothers who were buried in an African American and First Peoples cemetery – now a park.

This location was used as a public burial ground starting as early as 1840, with over 1,000 individuals buried there until 1898.

The new memorial wall includes the name of the sacred site, a brief history, and 318 recorded names of those buried there, and the new plaza has a butterfly garden and surrounding benches.

As many of you know, East Harlem also has a burial ground from the Dutch colonial era where enslaved people of African decent are buried. This location (between 1st and 2nd Avenue) and 126/12th Streets, is partly paved over, and partly built over (an old abandoned MTA bus depot).

The Harlem Burial Ground was first used in 1658 when Governor Peter Stuyvesant ordered enslaved Africans to build a nine-mile road from lower Manhattan to the city known then as Nieuw Haarlem. Seven years later the residents erected the First Reformed Low Dutch Church of Harlem (future Elmendorf Reformed Church) at First Avenue and 127th Street and a quarter acre of land was reserved for a “Negro Burying Ground.”

Our community awaits funding for a proper memorial site.

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