Posted on 26 February 2015 by LeslieM

RE: Townhouses pending on former Burial Ground

Dear Editor:

We have quite a situation in town.

It appears that we have a vacant lot sitting dormant as the site of a former cemetery.

From my perspective, there are two options.

The first is to reestablish the former cemetery. The second is to utilize that property to improve our city. Leaving it dormant, in my opinion, is not an option.

Since I have heard no real interest in the former, let me share a vision about the latter.

Studies conducted at the site to date have uncovered no evidence of existing human remains. The people interred at that cemetery lived before Civil Rights were established for all American citizens.

The story of the people buried there and perhaps moved to Pineview is, in fact, the history of our great city.

Let us research and celebrate these people. Many of their family members still live in town and are a part of our community.

As it stands now, if there are any people buried in that field, they are just about forgotten, lost to the injustice of history because of the way African- Americans were treated at that time.

I propose that we develop the site and, if any remains are uncovered, let us celebrate those people. Find out exactly who they are through DNA testing. Give them a proper resting place with new headstone markers. Tell their families so they can come and remember their forefathers. Put their life stories in the newspaper so that all of our citizens can learn about and celebrate our city’s family history together.

I see this as a real opportunity to uncover our city’s family roots. These people were treated as second-class citizens, relegated to their own cemetery, left with wooden headstones and boxes that rotted overtime, forgotten by all but the eldest of us.

Let us honor them, perhaps for the first time ever in their lives, as American citizens and founding members of Deerfield Beach, rather than second-class blacks.

All of these people died before Civil Rights were enacted.

Let us search for any remains as we develop the site and lay the new foundations. I’m sure there are able construction workers among the families of those who might be interred there. Let us ask that one or more of those family members be employed to help develop that site.

If any remains are found, let us hold a proper funeral in the city cemetery with as much pomp and circumstance as any funeral we have ever seen in this city.

Let us celebrate the lives of these people. Let our city leaders and all of our residents come and pay their respects to the forefathers of our city, hand in hand, as black and white children of Deerfield Beach, together.

Let us honor them as our American forefathers, rather than unidentified blacks sitting in an abandoned lot, as they are now.

Let us speak of them as Americans fully deserving of equality and worthy of honor, rather than as blacks in an abandoned field.

Honor them, as we improve this city together and lay the foundations for a new downtown district in that area.

Anthony Dispenziere

Deerfield Beach

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