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Fla. legislature urged to approve bill for African-American burial site task force

Historians say the task force could uncover hundreds of years of history.
Posted at 11:18 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 23:18:43-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL)  — A bill proposed to the Florida legislature could allow a task force to take a deeper look for unmarked African-American burial sites.

"The question was asked, 'do you think there's a burial site underneath this trail,'" said Gloria Jefferson Anderson.

Anderson believes there is a burial site behind Testerina Primitive Baptist Church in the Miccosukee Greenway area in Tallahassee.

Her ancestral tree along with the research of plantations in Leon County led her to this spot.

"In Leon County in 1860 there were over 12,000 enslaved people," Anderson said.

If passed, a state task force could help her and others determine where their ancestors lie.

Anderson called experts to identify what was under the soil, using cadaver dogs.

If the dogs sat, it meant a possible burial site.

"One of the dogs sat down five times and this was January of 2020 and the other dog on the other side of the trail sat down seven times," Anderson explained, giving her more confidence this could be a possibility.

That same process was used to identify an African-American slave burial site at the Capital City Country club in 2019.

Former Tallahassee NAACP president Delaitre Hollinger spear-headed that discovery and says that's why the task force is needed, to uncover hundreds of years of history.

"Plantation owners were usually buried on city-owned cemeteries but the slaves were more than likely buried on plantation property and of course there weren't immaculate records that were kept," said Hollinger.

The bill would allow the task force to focus on and honor sites.

Hollinger says it's important the task force covers many sites in the state.

"All parts of the state that includes South Florida, Central Florida, North Florida because we have quite a few in the North Florida area," Hollinger said.

With hopes to reunite generations with the ancestors they will never know.

"I looked up at my fathers picture whose been gone sense 65 and I said Daddy i finally found your people," Anderson reflected.

A hearing on the task force bill is expected during this session.