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Philadelphia Burial Site To Honor Freed Slaves With Memorial

Philadelphia’s Weccacoe Playground will soon be transformed into a historic memorial in honor of thousands of freed slaves.

Discovered back in 2008 by historian Terry Buckalew, the community playground originally served as an African American Burial Ground for members of the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church — which was purchased by the church in 1810. Archaeologists believe that an estimated 5,000 freed black slaves are buried 18 inches beneath the concrete, according to Associated Press.

Now, after years of deliberating amongst community members, city officials announced plans last month to renovate a section of the playground into the Bethel Burying Ground Historic Site.

“This is an opportunity to fix something that fell off of our radar, and it’s a teachable moment for these young children,” Leslie Patterson-Tyler tells AP. “It’s already a gathering place, so let’s continue to gather in this place and talk about what was.”

Construction of the historical site — which will be located in Philly’s Queen Village neighborhood — will require the dismantling of a “well-used” community center to make way for the memorial.

Rev. Mark Tyler went on to note that he hopes the Bethel Burying Ground Historic Site will inspire thought-provoking dialogue amongst all parents and children. “I think that would be a wonderful way to honor the ancestors who are buried there,” he said to the Associated Press. “To help these children write a new and better American story.”

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