TAMPA, Fla. — Nearly 150 coffins were found last year buried on land on King High School’s southern edge.
It was once Tampa’s Ridgewood Cemetery.
But like so many predominantly African American cemeteries around the country, it was neglected and forgotten.
“This is generations that we’ve been waiting to restore dignity to this site and so I would hope that over the next coming months this could be all done," said Hillsborough County school board member Tamara Shamburger.
Right now behind a fence, there is nothing to indicate a cemetery was ever here. But that will soon change with a permanent memorial or maybe a park.
“We are probably going to run into an issue of being able to accurately identify everyone who was buried there. But a historic marker would be in order. Also making sure that area is gated off and properly commemorated as a burial ground," said Rev. Larry Roundtree.
The district wants to make this a learning experience for students at King High School and elsewhere.
Ridgewood opened in the 1940s, but the land was sold. And eventually bought by the district.
Last year, experts used ground-penetrating radar to locate many of those buried here.
Other lost cemeteries were recently discovered in Tampa and Clearwater.
“This is not a localized issue, the discovery of African-American cemeteries and so it speaks at a national level of some of the other issues of other communities are trying to reconcile," said teacher Shannon Peck Bartle.
Despite financial strains, the school district has committed to making sure this project is completed.