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New memorial renderings unveiled for erased Black cemetery at Tampa’s King High School

“It is a permanent marker, but it allows a history lesson..." said Jerel McCants.

TAMPA, Fla — The Hillsborough County school district on Monday unveiled new renderings for a memorial to honor those buried in an erased segregation-era African American cemetery at King High School.

The memorial is being designed in partnership with Jerel McCants Architecture Inc, a local design firm in Tampa. The memorial takes inspiration from the image from the Christian hymn, “I’ll Fly Away,” and poetry from Nikki Giovanni. It also incorporates elements that symbolize a dove, which represents peace and the transition of life.

McCants said on Monday the goal of the memorial is to restore what was lost and help re-establish connection.

“It’s more of a history lesson and tit’s something people can take with them and maintain that presence there,” he said. “It is a permanent marker, but it allows a history lesson and allows students on their own school grounds a place to understand something beyond themselves.”

The school district learned about the cemetery after 10 Tampa Bay alerted then board member Tamara Shamburger that a whistleblower had documents suggesting burials from Ridgewood Cemetery were at King High School.

The district confirmed the claim through ground-penetrating radar, which showed at least 145 burials on the property.

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