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Florida Matters

Tampa Bay-Based Project Continues The Work Of Highlighting Unearthed Cemeteries

Two men on a field at King High School use a machine that resembles a lawn mower to use radar to locate coffins.
Thomas Iacobucci
/
WUSF Public Media
Two archaeologists on a field at King High School in Tampa use radar to locate coffins of an unmarked cemetery.

Five University of South Florida professors launched the Black Cemetery Network last June.

On this week’s Florida Matters, we look at the ongoing work of unearthing long-forgotten African American cemeteries in the Tampa Bay area.

In August, an engineering company found evidence of possible graves underneath a parking lot at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

The site was once home to Oaklawn Cemetery, a burial ground used by St. Petersburg's Black community from the early-1900s to mid-1920s.

Researchers and archaeologists across the country have been locating these kinds of sites for years.

Five University of South Florida professors responded by creating the Black Cemetery Network. Launched in June, its purpose is to document and highlight the stories of the nation's unearthed cemeteries and the people buried in them.

Host Bradley George talks with Antoinette Jackson, chair of USF’s Anthropology Department and one of the founders of the Network, and Walter Jennings, a Tampa-based poet who is also part of the project.

You can listen to Bradley’s full conversation with Jackson and Jennings by clicking on the “Listen” button. Or you can listen to the WUSF app under “Programs & Podcasts.”

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