African burial ground found in Harlem to be protected

- For two centuries beginning in the mid-1660s, a Dutch church was located near 126th Street and First Avenue. The church had two cemeteries: one for white parishioners and the other for those of African descent.

When the church moved, the white remains were relocated to graves in the Bronx. The black remains were simply left there and rediscovered in 2015.

James Patchett of the NYC Economic Development Corp. said more than 100 bones were found on the site.

The City Council on Wednesday righted what officials say was a historic wrong. They protected the burial site from ever being touched when the site gets redeveloped. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito issued the proclamation as the site is in her district.

"This has obviously been a delicate conversation and we are proud of the agreement we have come to with neighborhood advocates on promoting the history of the space and imparting the respect that it deserves as a final resting site of the unjustly enslaved."

Eventually, a development combining affordable housing and retail space will replace the current MTA bus depot. Patchett said a memorial will be erected to mark its legacy. That news was welcomed by members of the task force trying to protect the burial ground.

"It's been a journey, but I'm so pleased that we've been blessed to arrive at this point of our journey," Rev. Patricia Singletary said.

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