Donate here to Protect the Pine Street African Burial Ground
Purchase and Restoration Plan
We are working to purchase a property that contains a forgotten historic African Burial Ground in Uptown Kingston. The purchase would be a short sale to avoid the risk of it being put back up for auction. Once secured, we will work with our partner Harambee and the community to restore the site, which includes an existing building, and open it to the public as a regional center for education and reflection. Our organizations have joined together to honor our shared humanity and collective ties to the land.
The bank’s loan servicing agent has set the price at $127,500 and the KLT has committed $40,000 of its own funds to cover the pre-purchase and closing costs, as well as part of the purchase price. Harambee’s Coalition aims to raise an additional $160,000 for the purchase as well as to shore up the house against further deterioration. Their future aim is to repurpose the building as an interpretative visitors’ center.
Bringing History to Light
More than 125 years ago, this burial ground was portioned off for private ownership when the borders of the City of Kingston expanded into the surrounding rural area. Its existence has not since been officially acknowledged despite robust historic documentation and the findings of human remains of African origins. Recently, staff at SUNY New Paltz’s geography department used ground-penetrating radar to survey the site: The results indicate countless graves onsite that have long been ignored.
Just as the African Burial Ground National Monument was established in New York City after human remains were discovered, this land in Kingston should receive due acknowledgement as part of the erased history of the black experience in the Hudson Valley. This effort recognizes that 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to be sold into bondage in North America and Coalition members see the re-dedication of this site as one way to begin a healing process.
In November 2018, this property was slated for auction, but the bank’s loan servicing agent pulled it when we informed them it contains an unrecognized burial ground. It is now being temporarily held with the expectation that we will purchase it in the very near future. We have completed all of the due diligence on the property to prepare for purchase, including surveying, inspection, title report and environmental assessments.
Involving the Community to Protect and Heal
The KLT and Harambee have hosted three meetings—one with neighbors of the burial ground, one with aligned organizations, and one with the broader community. Numerous residents remember the previous attempts of other groups to protect this site and want to see it resolved once and for all. An adjoining lot included in the purchase of the burial ground will provide a dedicated public green space in a neighborhood where this is lacking, and is a priority for us.
To view media coverage of this initiative, visit our Press Page
Click HERE to join Harambee's Coalition to Protect the Pine Street African Burial Ground!
GUARDIANS - $1000+
ALLIES - $500+
SUPPORTERS - $250+
Other Corporate Donors
Wild Earth, Hudson Valley Circus Arts, Exceedance LLC, 20th Century Furnishings, A.G.I. Agency Inc., Center for Creative Education, Hudson River Maritime Museum, Keeping Up LLC, Ministry of Maat
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In 2010, the Kingston Land Trust, in partnership with the AME Zion Church and the Kingston Veteran's Association, initiated a re-dedication process of the Mt. Zion Cemetery, which had fallen into disrepair after decades of neglect. This process included historical research, an awareness campaign, and a ceremony in 2011. Nearly 200 people attended the Re-dedication Ceremony, including family members who drove from as far away as Washington DC. The site continues to be cared for by the Kingston Veteran's Association.
The Zion African-American Cemetery, located on South Wall Street, is the second African American Cemetery in Kingston. It represents the key component of the history of the African American community in Kingston from the mid 19th Century onward. The earliest documented grave is believed to date to circa 1856 while the latest is believed to be 1967, the approximate period of significance although the cemetery has been said to date back earlier.
A list of approx 90 persons known to be buried here was drawn up from research in the 1980s. The cemetery contains names of many of Kingston’s early African American families and includes Dutch and French Huguenot surnames of Ulster County families for whom their family members had likely once served as slaves and as such forms a vital visible legacy for Kingston’s African American community. In addition, a notable number of veterans are buried in this cemetery including numerous Civil War veterans who served in the US Colored Troops, 20th Regiment.
The cemetery has the potential and probability of illustrating lifestyle and traditions of Kingston’s African American community and encompassing important information relevant to the study of the material culture and social history of this community over an extended period and thereby reflecting historic associations from Kingston’s early period of settlement through the end of the period of significance, as well as containing the graves of members of the USCT 20th Regiment whose activities helped determine the course of events in national history during the Civil War.