FLUSHING, Queens — A burial ground for African Americans and Native Americans in Queens is finally being recognized.
For decades, residents have been fighting for a proper remembrance wall and maintenance.
The area on 46th Avenue in Flushing looks like any other park in the neighborhood, but over a thousand people were buried there in the 19th century. Most of the people buried at the site are of African American and Native American descent.
Robbie Garrison, co-chair of the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground Conservancy, fought for a memorial at the side for two decades.
After decades of negotiations and over a million dollars from city officials, the 19th century cemetery has been refurbished by the Parks Department. Councilmember Peter Koo gave over half a million dollars to help make it happen.
Chief Little Fox says this is a victory for his community.
“I’m happy to be here to see the change after what we did,” said Fox.
Back in the 1930s, a playground and wading pool were built on the site, disturbing the existing graves. Four headstones that remained at the site at that time were removed, and some of the bones that were uncovered during the project were stolen.
Thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Council Member Peter Koo, and the late former Borough President Helen Marshall, the memorial project was funded. The NYC Parks Department, and Design and Construction Department helped make it happen.
“I think it’s marvelous. There are a lot of places like this in America, but we found it right here in Flushing,” said area resident Eula Washington from Flushing.
The Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground Conservancy is now registered as a historic site on both the state and national levels. And now the community is working towards the NYC landmark preservation status.