BY JOE MARVILLI
Last weekend, the community cleaned up an old burial ground that has suffered from decades of neglect.
Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), Green Earth Urban Gardens, the Queensboro Hill Neighborhood Association and the Dept. of Parks held an “It’s My Park Day” event on Oct. 19. Volunteers worked on weeding, mulching and planting daffodil bulbs to beautify the Olde Flushing Burial Ground. The clean-up day was funded by a $500 donation from Koo.
Located at 165th Street and 46th Avenue, the Olde Flushing Burial Ground has been around since the late 1800s. It was used from the 1880s until its closing in 1898 as the final resting place for African Americans and Native Americans, who make up 62 percent of its population.
“The conservancy has been focused on establishing it as a sacred site,” Maureen Regan, of Green Earth Urban Gardens, said. “What we came in to do is to work in partnership with the conservancy in bringing awareness to the community, to come and learn about their history, take part in it and maintain it.”
Green Earth Urban Gardens plans to clean up the site four times a year.
Mandingo Tshaka, the co-chair of the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground Conservancy, said that the clean-up is a good start, but the perception of the site needs to change, so people do not treat it like a park.
“When you go by Flushing Cemetery, you know it’s a cemetery. Those symbols are there. They need to put them in there. There’s more than a thousand people buried there,” he said.
Community Board 7 district manager Marilyn Bitterman said the board has been fighting with the City Design Commission to get an obelisk installed at the site, detailing its historical significance.
“It’s very important that we all remember the racial history within our community,” Koo said.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.