A crew working in a cemetery in Mississippi has found 119 graves belonging to African-American slaves. The crew was constructing drainage and a road at the Red Banks Cemetery in Marshall County.
A report initially filed by Atlantablackstar.com noted that the graves are unmarked, making the finding in the 170-year-old cemetery difficult, if not impossible to identify.
But these findings, it would appear, are not uncommon although 119 graves raise eyebrows.
Speaking to local news in Memphis, Ralph Farrell, an official of the Red Banks Cemetery Association, said: “I guess I was expecting maybe probably ten or 15 … maybe 20 at the most.”
Farrell said when he kept finding new graves beyond his expectations, he “just stopped and prayed.”
The association had ordered for the cemetery to be mapped out with radar technology and had been told there was an area underground with buried slaves.
Still, they were not expecting more than 100 bodies.
“I prayed for these people, not knowing who they are and my quest is getting or finding the names, so we can honor these people,” Farrell told local news.
According to him, the association may call in help from Mississippi’s department of archives and history to help identify those buried there.
“With this area right here, I just took it to heart that it gets done and these people and their loved ones are honoured,” Farrell added.
In September, authorities in Florida, U.S., discovered a long-lost cemetery with over 120 coffins beneath a public housing complex along North Florida Avenue in Tampa’s black community.
The cemetery, known as ‘Zion Cemetery’, was established in 1901 and believed to be the city’s first cemetery for African-Americans.
Reports added portion of Robles Park Village, which is owned by the Tampa Bay Housing Authority, was built on top of the cemetery in the 1950s.