Historic African Burial Ground Dedication Ceremony at Historic St. Agnes Cemetery

Posted on April 29, 2017 by Jennifer Mele under Historic St. Agnes Cemetery, Volunteer

On Saturday, June 17, 2017, Historic St. Agnes Cemetery and the African Burial Ground Committee held a special bronze plaque dedication ceremony marking the Historic African Burial Ground site at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands, NY. The ceremony included a celebration with traditional dance, poetry, African spiritual music by Heavenly Echoes and keynote by Nell Stokes, a local expert in African history.  It was an interdenominational service presided over by local clergy and community leaders. A  Resolution designating June 19th as Ancestor Appreciation Day was also unveiled and read.

The African Burial Ground, formerly the Schuyler Flatts Burial Ground Project was created to pay tribute to the discovered remains of 14 formerly enslaved Africans; to honor these souls with dignity and respect. The project was awarded a 2016 NYS Historic Preservation Award granted to the Schuyler Flatts Burial Ground Committee.

In 2005, the human remains of 14 individuals—6 women, 1 man, 2 children, and 5 infants—were discovered during a construction project in Colonie. Hartgen Archeological Associates and the bioarchaeologists from the New York State Museum ascertained that the remains were nearly 200 years old and they were found on land that once belonged to the colonial Schuyler family, the family that had enslaved them.

In June of 2016, after many years of study, the remains were laid to rest in a special interdenominational burial service presided over by local clergy and community leaders, with hundreds of community members in attendance. News of the project and burial ceremony spread quickly and was publicized throughout the U.S. and worldwide; with extensive media by nearly 50 U.S. newspapers, major broadcast news stations, and even worldwide coverage in the U.K., Australia and many other countries.

Burial of the dead has always been recognized by the Catholic Church as a religious rite and a corporal work of mercy that shows compassion and respect for all, living and deceased. Albany Diocesan Cemeteries takes that charge seriously, and we are very pleased to show to compassion and respect for these 14 individuals and provide them with a dignified resting place and formal African burial Ground.

The ceremony took place two days before Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery throughout the confederate south.

For more information contact Kelly Grimaldi at: (518) 463-0134

This event is a New York State Path Through History featured event!

Links to some press on the The African Burial Ground Project:

2 thoughts on “Historic African Burial Ground Dedication Ceremony at Historic St. Agnes Cemetery

  1. Evelyn Kamili King says:

    I truly thank St Agnes Cemetery for donating the 14 burial plots for my African Ancestors.
    I have cried many tears and put all of my energy and compassion toward this project.
    I also thank all committee members and the community for taking the time out of their life to
    help us celebrate the lives of these people who were once enslaved. This type of project can help heal human relationships in order for people of all races to understand each other and to appreciate a variety of cultures and beliefs. Thank you African Ancestors for choosing me to take on this mission. I will never forget. My last vow to you, is to make sure that the African Burial Ground at Historic St Agnes become a NYS historical landmark. Then my work is done.
    Evelyn Kamili King (Project Manager)

    1. Jennifer Mele says:

      Thank you for your comments Evelyn and for your steadfast commitment to this project.

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