CLEARWATER, Fla — Neighbors in Clearwater’s African American community never believed graves from the North Greenwood cemetery at Holt and Engman were moved in the 1950s as documents said they were.
Their fears were confirmed on Friday when archaeologists released a report showing 44 grave-like anomalies were still on property belonging to Pinellas County Schools and the Homeless Empowerment Program.
"It's a shame that they were lost," Zebbie Atkinson IV, president of the Clearwater/Upper Pinellas NAACP said.
Archaeologists believe there could be even more graves waiting to be discovered.
A report from Cardno said the shuttered Curtis Fundamental school sits on top of a large portion of the survey area and “it is likely that a number of additional grave-like anomalies will be present beneath the footprint of the school building.”
The report says the number of grave-like anomalies next to the building supports this hypothesis, and that they could extend beneath the building completely intact.
Cardno has recommended that the school district and the city move forward with a process called “ground-truthing,” which is digging into the ground just to the top of the coffin to confirm the presence of graves. This process does not disturb the remains or call for exhuming.
The company also recommends possible demolition of the school building and additional ground-penetrating radar testing at the site.
In addition to further archaeological research, Cardno also recommends immediate consultation with the local community impacted by these findings.
Emerald Morrow is a reporter with 10News WTSP. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. You can also email her at email@example.com. To read more about the search for lost African American burial grounds in the Tampa Bay area, head to wtsp.com/erased.
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