On May 23rd 2019, we permanently protected the Pine Street African Burial Ground, and it will be transferred to Harambee in 2020!
Thanks to community support, last year we raised the funds to purchase this forgotten site, in partnership with Harambee and in collaboration with Scenic Hudson.
Support the ongoing stewardship of the Burial Ground by donating to Harambee.
Stay tuned for a more detailed update soon: we are in the process of adding more photos, links and resources to this page, including documentation of the Youth Design Team and their work!
Next steps for 2020
Co-create a virtual gallery to display the work of the Youth Design Team and City College architecture class designs
Support Harambee in implementing aspects of the Youth Design to covert this residential backyard that contains the burial ground, into a memorial site that is open to the public
Transfer the ownership of the Burial Ground from Kingston Land Trust to Harambee with a conservation easement to forever protect the sacred land
Facilitate more ground penetrating radar with SUNY New Paltz to determine the extent of the graves
Support Harambee in land stewardship, helping with clearing and plantings
Support the development of documentary film clips that tell the story of the site, its history, protection and design
1750: The trustees of Kingston identified an area outside the walled settlement of Kingston (formerly Wiltwyck) to be used as a burial ground for enslaved Africans, where they may have been buried since the 1660s. African people who were enslaved in and around Kingston were denied church burial.
1827: Slavery ended in New York State.
1853: The Burial Ground was sold to private owners when the borders of the City of Kingston expanded into the surrounding rural area. A lumberyard was built on top, but the graves were not relocated.
1858: The Mount Zion African American Cemetery then opened on South Wall Street, and is still there today, protected as a local landmark.
1920s: The house that remains on site today was built as a private residence, with a partially dug out basement.
1990: Archaeologist Joe Diamond and Kingston historian Ed Ford did an archeological survey of Kingston and tested bones found in neighboring basement that were of African origin.
1996: An African Burial Ground preservation group was formed in response to an attempt to build a parking lot on the Burial Ground, but permanent protection failed due to lack of funding and inaction by the City of Kingston despite robust historic documentation and the findings of human remains of African origins.
2006: Owned in Life, Owned in Death: The Pine Street African and African-American BurialGround in Kingston, New York was published by Joseph E. Diamond.
Bringing History to Light
2008: Kingston Land Trust (KLT) was established.
2011: Kingston Land Trust formed the African American History Committee and hosted the Rededication of the Mount Zion African American Cemetery and identified the need to protect the Pine Street African Burial Ground, under the Leadership of Executive Director Rebecca Martin.
2013-2017: The Kingston Land Trust was volunteer run and did not have capacity to pursue the property, and the owner was not able to be found so the property was stuck in pre-foreclosure.
2017-2018: KLT hired four staff, who took up the baton and investigated the status of this property. Harambee formed, and Kingston Land Trust and Harambee joined forces to determine how to protect this land.
2018: The KLT arranged for an offer to the bank to be made by an aligned organization to purchase the land at the price of a cemetery but that low offer was never considered by the bank. The bank then listed the property at auction. The KLT, in coordination with Harambee, and with the support of Kingston's Mayor, Steve Noble, requested that the bank donate the land, but they said they were unable to do so, so we asked them pull the land from auction and hold it while the KLT and Harambee raised money to purchase it.
- The KLT had asked the bank to pull this pre-foreclosed property from auction in November of 2018 and hold it while we raised awareness and funds needed to purchase this unmarked historically significant site.
- In early 2019, staff at SUNY New Paltz’s Geology department used ground-penetrating radar to survey the site: The results indicate countless graves onsite that have long been ignored
- During Black History Month Kingston, Harambee and KLT presented our plans and ask to the public to protect the site. The meeting held 75 people and took place at the African Roots Library
- On May 23rd, 2019, we purchased 157 Pine Street (and Rear Property) in Uptown, Kingston, forever protecting the long forgotten historic African Burial Ground contained within
- On September 24, 2019 the Kingston Land Trust was awarded the $20,000 that was allocated for Midtown in the City's participatory budget for the collaborative project: Pine St. African Burial Ground youth development program for design and community engagement. This is project proposed by KaN Landscape Design, and the Kingston YMCA Farm Project to the Kingston Land Trust and Harambee was filmed by Growing Films.
- In November, a local youth hip hop group performed a piece on the African Burial Ground at Academy Green as part of their Awakening Paths community showcase.
2020 (winter and spring)
- During Black History Month Kingston, the KLT and Harambee presented our detailed plan for how to transfer the land to Harambee. This community meeting was held at the Restorative Justice Center
- On March 10th, the Youth Design Team presented their final design proposal to the community, after 5 months of community engagement, investigation and design.
- On May 18th, City College students presented their designs on a community Zoom call.
Juneteenth 2019 at our Community Gratitude Ceremony at the Burial Ground, to celebrate its successful protection, and for the first time in history invite the community in to finally honor it and the people buried within.
2019 WAMC Radio interview with community members, as we were campaigning to protect the Burial Ground
Click HERE to join Harambee's Coalition to Protect the Pine Street African Burial Ground!
• Lester and Phyllis Epstein Foundation
GUARDIANS - $1000+
• Mid-Hudson Jews for Racial Justice
ALLIES - $500+
• John Hallstein Carpentry
SUPPORTERS - $250+
• City of Kingston Common Council
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
In-kind Donations (Goods & Services)
Thomas H. Benton - legal services
SUNY New Paltz - ground penetrating radar
Livelihood Magazine - advertising
Kristopher Johnson - photography
Abigail Thomas, Alice Quinn, Amy Milano, Amy Trompetter, Ana Jimenez (in memory of Demetrio Jimenez), Andi & Tony Levin, Andrea & Cristopher Livecchi-Gatzke, Andrew Hersh, Angie Hogencamp, Anna Antoniak, Anne Bailey, Anne Hudson, BenJamin Schrank, Blair Goodman, Brent Felker, Brian Woltman, Callie Jayne, Carla Lesh, Carol Warren, Carrie Schapker, Cheryl Demuth, Chris Parent, Christopher Fenichel-Hewitt, Claudia Forest, Constance Rudd, Dan Shapley, Daniel Fiege (in honor of Pauline Oliveros), Daniella Jackson (in honor of Micah Blumenthal), David Linnard, Debra Bresnan, Denise Murphy, Diana Zuckerman, Dimitri Galitzine, Ed Blouin, Elissa Krauss, Ellen Kelly-Lind, Emily and Elena Puthoff, Emily Vail, Erica Baron, Estyn Hulbert, Eva Tenuto, Evelyn Wright, Fawn Tantillo, Felipa Gaudet, Francis Palmieri (in memory of Valri, Warren & Gloria Simmons), Geoffrey Miller, Giordana Grossi, Harrison & Karen Griffin, Hayley Downs, Hillary and Owen Harvey, Ida Hakkila, Jacinta Bunnell, Jacqueline Oster, James Porter, Jane Abrams, Jason Lord, Johanna Dun-Sones, John Crews, John Hallstein, Joni Jones, Jordan Scruggs, Joseph and Olana Oconnor, Josie Baucom, Judith Davis, Julie Novak, Karen Peters, Karen Ranney, Karen Washington, Kate Vanbaren, Kathleen Murray, Kathy Mellert, Ken Nystrom, Keri Hostetter, Kevin Bryant, Krystell Bullock, Lara Giordano, Laura Foss, Lee Bernstein, Leola Specht, Leslie Gallagher, Liliana Vogel, Linda Reznick, Lisa Brodhead ("To all my ancestors known and unknown"), Lisa Collins, Lydia Dejohnette, Lydia Newcombe, Lynn Eckert, Maggie Williams, Mara Kearney, Marc Rider, March Gallagher, Margaret Weidemann (in honor of Tim Weidemann), Thomas Weidemann (in honor of Tim Weidemann), Marissa Marvelli, Marlene Furtick (in memory of William & Blondena Furtick), Martine Green-Rogers, Mary Redmond, Maxanne Resnick, Meg Murphy (in honor of Tyrone Wilson of Harambee), Micah Blumenthal, Michael Erwin, Michele Hirsch, Michele Muller, Myrna Greenfield, Nan Tepepr, Pamela Malcolm, Pat Strong, Paul Mersfelder, Rachel Winograd (in memory of Georgia West), Rebecca Rojer, Richard Frumess, Richard Gromek, Robert Caserta, Robert Dietrich, Robert King, Rosalind Dickinson (in memory of Beatrice Day), Ruth Katz (in memory of Herby Williams), Sally Bermanzohn, Salvatore LaBruna, Sari Botton, Scott McIntosh, Susan H. Gillespie, Susan Hereth, Susan Holland, Susan Richmann, Suzanne Holzberg,Theresa Widmann, Tom Mawhinney, William Lytle, Yoel Eisenstadt (in memory of Joseph and Helen Eisenstadt), Zoe Margaret Moffitt, Frank Futral, Dezi Hall, Aimee Gardner, Giovanna Righini, Paul & Carol Auer, Carla Becker, Ellen Butowsky and Seth McKee, Janet Cusack, Leslie GallGher, Anna Harrod, Alexandra Pryjma, Eric Winchell, Michelle & Noah Gullickson, Maxine Kamin, Amy Day, Caitlin Salemi, Sara Eckel, Maxanne Resnick, Dan & Liz Strickland, Jamie Meinsen, Peg Bauer, Peter Demuth, Neville Bean, Kristen Wilson, Kendra Haven, Michael Torres, Morgan Coy, Elizabeth Berardi (in honor of Ella Lindsay), Zed Lucienne, Stephen Busch, Minya Dejohnette, Roy Wang, Scott McIntosh, Carmela & Matt Munisteri, Arlene Reynolds, Paul Tully, Kevin O'Connor, Beth and Ari Goldstein, Jeff Jones, Andrew Kirschner, James Richmond, Nicole Wooten, Elizabeth LoGiudice, Janet Solow, Sarah Brainard, Jeff Jones, Michele Dean, John Evans, Mary Leonard, Lynne Rosenquist, Anne Bailey (in honor of Tyrone Wilson), Andrea Stern, John Doyle, Tyler Carlson, Jo Shuman (in memory of Raymond Shuman), Katherine Hite (in honor of Black History Project Committee of Poughkeepsie), Michael Wilcock, Diane and Debra Pineiro-Zucker (in honor of Black Lives Matter), Mary Jane Nusbaum (in memory of Sanford Nusbaum), Carl Parris, Lucille De Bonis, Toby & Anita Campion, Brian Patterson, Scott Reynolds, Janice Velasques, Bethe Myers, Amy Myslik (in memory of Karen Myslik), Trish Hawkins (in honor of Renelle Brown)
Black Press USA 6/29/2019
Hudson Valley One 6/21/2019
Daily Freeman 6/15/2019
Mid Hudson News 3/26/2019
Daily Freeman 3/21/2019
Hudson Valley One 2/18/2019
This article also appeared in the 2/21/2019 edition of Kingston Times
Mid Hudson News 2/13/2019
Daily Freeman 2/13/2019
3/20/2019 - The Midweek Meetup - KLT Executive Direct Julia Farr discusses her background, the work of the Kingston Land Trust, and the effort to protect the Pine Street African Burial Ground with host Will Baylies.
WKNY Radio Kingston
Public Service Announcement - running regularly through February and March 2019
Community Corner with Christine - 2/27/2019 - This week Christine Hein, executive director of People's Place, is joined by Shaniqua Bowden and Greg Shaheen of the Kingston Land Trust. The conversation covers the mission of KLT, it's origins and the important and immediate issue of preserving the African Burial Ground on Pine Street in midtown.
Jimmy Buff Loves You - 2/18/2019 - Odell Winfield of Harambee and the A.J. Williams Meyers African Roots Library along with Julia Farr of the Kingston Land Trust join Jimmy Buff to talk about saving an African Burial Ground on Pine Street in Midtown Kingston.
La Voz - 2/14/2019 - KLT Conservation Coordinator Greg Shaheen discusses (in Spanish) the African Burial Ground with co-hosts Mariel Fiori and Antonio Flories-Lobos.
Speak Out - 1/5/2019 - Host Shane Gallo chats with Professor Joe Diamond and Shaniqua Bowden, Outreach Coordinator of the Kingston Land Trust about a very important upcoming project and necessary community initiative: the Pine Street African Burial Ground.
WAMC Northeast Public Radio
2/28/2019 - Part 1 - Kingston Land Trust Fundraises For African Burial Ground
3/1/2019 - Part 2 - Kingston Burial Ground: Reclaiming History
6/27/2019 Kingston Burial Ground: Looking Forward
WGHQ Kingston Community Radio
2/22/2019 - Hosts Christine Hein and Ken Brett discuss the African Burial Ground with members of the Kingston Land Trust and Harambee.
2/5/2019 - Members of the Coalition to Save the Pine Street African Burial Ground discuss the project with hosts Nina Postupak and Cameron Rylance for Black History Month
Spectrum News - Air date: 2/14/2019
Daily Freeman - Video of 6/15/2019 Community Gratitude Ceremony
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.