African Burial Ground Reaches Historic Milestone

KINGSTON – The Board of Directors of Harambee Kingston NY (HKNY) is pleased to announce it is now the owner of 157 Pine Street, Kingston, NY – the site that was formally designated in 1750 by the city’s trustees as a segregated burial ground for enslaved Africans. The deed to the land was transferred to HKNY by the Kingston Land Trust, Inc. on February 25, 2021.

The Kingston Land Trust is ardently committed to centering the voices and needs of Black people in its work on land access, ownership, livelihood through the land, and land conservation. To this end, the organization purchased the Pine Street African Burial Ground property in 2019, forever protecting this hallowed ground. While transferring the deed to Harambee Kingston NY this year, the Trust will continue to protect this land, in perpetuity, through a conservation easement that ensures it will always be preserved as a sacred historic memorial space under the stewardship of the African American community.

“It is still horrifying and shocking that people brought our beloved African ancestors here in chains…used and abused them as personal property, and buried them here in such a degrading way,” said Tyrone Wilson, CEO and Founder of HKNY. “But once buried here as slaves,our elders are now being given a new life as this sacred land is transferred into Black hands. A dark past is surely now a transformation of how the truth will be uncovered and how Kingstonians of all colors will begin connect to their true heritage.”

Founded in 2018, Harambee Kingston NY’s mission is to work collectively with local institutions and organizations to bring persons of all ethnic backgrounds together to educate, to enrich, and to empower children and families through the recognition and celebration of African American history, culture, and influencers. The organization does this by offering annual education and cultural activities at the burial site and throughout the city of Kingston such as the Juneteenth Ceremonies, the African Festival, the celebration of Kwanzaa, various youth education programs, and more.Beginning in June, HKNY will hold Pine Street Museum and Burial Ground Tours free and open to the public. An African/Slave/African American Farm-To-Table project in partnership with the YMCA, Kingston Land Trust and virtually reaching schools in Africa will commence this summer.

Most notably, during the Summer21 semester, an archaeological field school will be spearheaded by SUNY New Paltz’s Archeology Division at the burial site and will include students from Tuskegee Institute and HKNY’s Youth Design Team. The focus of the excavation will be the recovery and recording of material culture, burial programs, and human remains. A post-excavation analysis of any recovered material, artifacts, and human remains will take place on the SUNY New Paltz campus.The final step of the investigation will be the ceremonial reburial of all remains and associated grave goods in the same locations where they were found.The study will contribute to telling the story of the people who are buried at the Pine Street African Burial Ground, and relate them to the current residents of Kingston and all the way to the African Tribes of their origin.

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