HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Two weeks after the Hillsborough County School District learned of the possibility that an old burial ground may lay underneath the King High School campus, leaders came together to discuss the findings.
"We want to make sure all of our decision making is going to be inclusive here. We want to make sure that we respect the deceased, the descendants, and the community and their feelings around this situation," Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins said.
- School district discuss next steps for possible abandoned cemetery
- Geologists scanned King High last week for possible burial ground
Records show the City of Tampa bought a 40-acre parcel of land at 56th Street and what is now known as Sligh Avenue back in 1933.
Four years later, a portion of that land was designated as a burial ground for the areas poorest residents. Burials began in the 1940s and the cemetery was named Ridgewood.
The city later sold that land to investors who sold it to the school district. King High School opened in 1960, even though maps from the past clearly show an area of interest where gravesites are believed to be.
That prompted State Representative Wengay Newton to ask if there are other lost cemeteries in Hillsborough County.
"Is anyone looking to see if anymore of this stuff is going on? I don't believe this is the last one," Newton said.
Local historian Rodney Kite Powell believes that there are.
"This is not going to be the last cemetery that we're sitting in a room talking about. I'm certain of that," he said.
Over the summer, an investigative report revealed Robles Park Village Apartment Complex was built over a portion of Zion Cemetery, an African American burial ground that dates back to 1901. NAACP Hillsborough County President Yvette Lewis was overwhelmed by these recent discoveries.
"We have got to figure this out. We have got to right this wrong. It's hurts," she explained.
More that 230 people were buried at Ridgewood Cemetery. Most of them were African American.
Last week, the district hired a company to conduct radar scans of the area where the gravesites are believed to be. The results of those radar scans are due back in about two weeks.