Lecture unearths the history of Pinellas cemeteries

PINELLAS COUNTY – Long before the establishment of Lincoln Cemetery on 58th Street South, other burial sites served African-American communities along the Pinellas peninsula. A lecture at Heritage Village this Sunday, Nov. 13 describes some of these earlier cemeteries, their fate and also mentions efforts to get a special historic designation for Rose Cemetery, the historic cemetery in Tarpon Springs that has served northern Pinellas for more than a century.

In the Pinellas Room at Heritage Village, 11909 125th St. N, two historians will offer a program entitled “Digging into Our Past: The History of African American Cemeteries in Pinellas County.” Tina Bucuvalas, the Curator of Arts & Historical Resources for the City of Tarpon Springs, will offer an enlightening lecture on the significance of the historic Rose Cemetery.

Bucuvalas describes some of the characteristics that historians and anthropologists consider when evaluating the social context of cemeteries. Her substantial research of Rose Cemetery will become the framework for a future initiative to get the cemetery added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Jim Schnur, a librarian at USF St. Petersburg and Heritage Village Historian in Residence, will broaden the discussion to talk about other African-American cemeteries in Pinellas County’s history. Among those he will describe are a few cemeteries that sit on the former site of the Laurel Park residential community along 16th Street South, presently used as parking lots at Tropicana Field.

Schnur will also talk about Oakhurst Cemetery, another largely forgotten site on a bluff near Seminole High School, as well as smaller cemeteries that served African-American communities in Clearwater, Safety Harbor and Dunedin.

Beginning at 2 p.m., this lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call (727) 582-2123.

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