Brooklyn community outraged over decision to turn sacred African burial ground into affordable housing
A Brooklyn community says they are outraged at the borough president and elected officials after they announced plans to turn a sacred burial ground into affordable housing.
The summer heat did not stop Nzingha Robertson from reaching out to her neighborhood Wednesday.
Between Bedford and Church Avenue lies the site of a sacred African burial ground, something Robertson says the community is not aware of.
"They worked in exchange for a salary that could not feed their family so we want to give them the dignity that they deserve at their final resting place,” says Robertson.
Last year, Mayor Bill De Blasio and Councilman Mathieu Eugene announced plans to turn the site into affordable housing, including youth programming and a memorial.
"I think those ancestors if they were with us they will be so happy to see us coming together to give to those young children, their descendants, the opportunity to have a better future,” says Eugene.
Robertson says she would rather see the entire plot stay the way it is, dedicated to the people that contributed to the city.
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development says in part, “Flatbush residents have expressed a need for affordable housing and a desire to memorialize the site's special connection to the historical Flatbush Burial Ground for enslaved and formerly enslaved people of African ancestry. We are committed to a comprehensive, community-engagement process to accomplish both goals."
Robertson plans on meeting at the burial site every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to inform the community about the history behind the plot in hopes of turning it into a memorial for those buried inside its gates.
The Brooklyn Borough President’s Office published a statement which said in part, “This community dialogue... is integral to envisioning a site that addresses this painful part of our collective past, as well as the multitude of needs... faced by the Flatbush community... Borough President Adams looks forward to the recommendations generated by the task force to guide the final request for proposals that will be issued later this year."