A Reclaimed Burial Ground Honored in Flushing

Go to Queens Examiner for more photos from the event at Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground.

Go to Queens Examiner for more photos from the event at Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground.

Ten years ago, a park in Flushing was reclaimed as the burial ground where, in the 1800s, some 500 to 1,000 people, mostly African and Native Americans, were buried. The site had been turned into a playground in 1936.

On Nov. 12, reports Queens Examiner’s Shane Miller, members of the Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church of Flushing, the Mattinecock Indian Tribe and the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground Conservancy joined residents and public officials to mark the 10th anniversary.

Their message was clear: “This is not a park, it is a cemetery,” as conservancy co-chair Robbie Garrison said. He added, “The people we are trying to honor are still buried here.”

The local resident who got the process started also attended the event.

In the 1980s, it came to the attention of community activist Mandingo Tshaka that some members of his church, Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church of Flushing, were buried at the site.

He eventually met some neighbors who remembered the cemetery, and even had a photo of four headstones that were still there before the city turned it into a playground.

“I would come here as a boy and didn’t know,” said Tshaka, who at the last minute made an appearance at Saturday’s ceremony, and recalled the neighbors who showed him the photo and started years of research into the site. “I’m blessed to have met the people that I met.”

But more needs to be done, say advocates including former Council member John Liu, who was active in helping to reclaim the site. What are they asking for? Find out at Queens Examiner.

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