Search continues for possible African-American cemetery hidden under King High School

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Hillsborough County School District continues to work to unearth the truth working to find a possible graveyard near King High School in Tampa.

But Valrico resident Mary Taylor Francis, 91, said she can tell them exactly where it is. She’s seen it.

“I saw it (the story) on my telephone and I thought ‘Oh My God’, I know where that cemetery is at,” she remembered.

In the late 1940s, Francis lived near the area where King High School sits. She recalls specifically walking down a dirt road in the area and seeing a pauper’s cemetery there.

“I used to drive my husband to work, but I used to walk my dog a long ways and take the kids and that’s how I found out it was a cemetery,” she said.

Francis drew a map to show 8 On Your Side exactly where it is, which by her recollection is in the southern corner of the school’s property.

That’s the very area being checked by ground-penetrating radar after a local citizen unearthed info about the final resting place.

“There was a couple of tombstones back there, most of them this big around with numbers and names,” Francis recalled. Francis said, she told the construction crews building King High School, opened nearly 60 years ago, that the cemetery was there.

“I don’t know how come the school, don’t cause I stopped and talked to the construction people. The man walked over there and looked at it.”

The NAACP and other community partners are heavily involved in this search for answers raising a larger question, why are things like this continuing to surface?

“We need to recognize it and also I think it’s time we educate the community on how did we get here,” said Yvette Lewis, President of the Hillsborough Branch. “Why are we finding these forgotten cemeteries or unknown cemeteries throughout the years?” Lewis added.

The district hopes to have some answers by next week.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss