TAMPA, Fla. (WFTS/CNN) — A Florida community is raising concerns after dozens of burials may be near a high school in Tampa. According to the Hillsborough County Public Schools, someone came forward with information about African American burials near the school.
“To know that there’s a burial ground that just went totally uncared for, just kind of thrown away, it’s disheartening to me,” said Tamara Shamburger, Chair of the school board.
A temporary fence now outlines where dozens of African Americans may have been buried, given no headstones, no caskets, erasing their memory.
“It’s representative of what my culture has experienced in this country and so folks like me, we’re going to fight to change that,” says Shamburger.
Someone alerted school officials who are now reviewing aerial maps and property records. Crews moved an agricultural program off the field in question.
Superintendent Jeff Eakins says this is a top priority for them, “This is a top priority of our district right now. We will show the highest level of respect for the individuals who may be buried in the cemetery and their descendants.”
Eakins says historical records don’t match up. A 1959 deed indicates an indigent graveyard on the southern edge of King High School. But according to an appraisal done the same year, that graveyard is 500 feet east of school property.
Regardless of its location, Tamara Shamburger says it’s critical those souls are not forgotten. “And that these folks, very deserving folks, get the respect that they need and so we want to make sure that all people are really respected in our community.”