Deerfield Beach, Florida, a city 40 miles north of Miami, has done the right thing and is pursuing turning a historically black cemetery called "Old Colored Cemetery" over to the state for perpetual care.
Like many historically black cemeteries, this cemetery was the only place where blacks could be buried in town. Newspaper records showed that cemetery was active from from the 1800s through 1940. In 1974, the landowner bulldozed all of the headstones and claimed that the bodies had been moved. Upon further investigation, only one body had paperwork proving that it was moved. Three archaeological studies found no bodies buried on the three acre plot of land, but many residents felt that their family was buried at the site and there were no records indicating otherwise. A local historian has compiled a list of 300 people who are suspected of being buried on the 3 acres.
Deerfield Beach residents banded together to stop the development project and narrowly lost the appeal to the city commissioner. A developer started construction on a 69 unit townhouse and discovered bones onsite during excavation. Once the bones were found, the project was halted.
The developer and city are making a case to have the state agreeing to repay the developer for some of the land's value. Eventually all parties hope to turn the site into a memorial park.
What will it take to get others to follow the lead of Deerfield Beach?