The lot in the picture above is a cemetery for black people located in Deerfield Beach City, Florida. It’s believed that the cemetery dates back to the 19th century. There’s just one problem: there are no bodies in this cemetery, and no one knows what happened to them.
Once called the “old colored cemetery,” there were supposedly more than 300 bodies of African-Americans buried at the site. Now there are none. Two studies have been conducted that have determined there are no bodies where the cemetery is supposed to be.
There are people living who have relatives who are supposed to be buried there and have living memory of it being a functional cemetery. It is unclear what happened to the bodies after they were removed from the cemetery.
The reason that the studies were conducted in the first place is because there are developers who want to build on the property.
Jean Robb, the mayor of Deerfield Beach City, believes that the bodies were moved to a cemetery owned by the city. As yet, the move cannot be confirmed.
There are a few things that I know for sure:
It’s a shame that there is segregation, even in death. And not just because of families getting plots in the same area. There were/are segregated cemeteries.
It’s shameful that the final resting place of so many people has been disturbed and desecrated in such a way.
It’s awful that people were even considering building on a cemetery.
It’s understandable that cemeteries can become abandoned and the maintenance go by the wayside, leaving people’s final resting place lost to time until someone decides to start digging.
However, we really need some sort of way to protect burial sites. If bodies have to be moved, every effort should be made to do it in a way that’s respectful of the deceased and their descendants.
Bodies shouldn’t just be lost even if a burial site has been abandoned. Those who are buried there deserve to have their stories preserved.