Please note that this event scheduled for Sunday, September 24th is cancelled & postponed for a future date due to impending rainstorms.
The City of Newburgh will celebrate the installation of a historical marker recognizing the location, journey and importance of the Colored Burial Ground. The ceremony will be held at the City of Newburgh Courthouse at the corner of Broadway and Route 9W on Sunday, September 24 from 2-4 p.m.
The installation marker continues the efforts of the Colored Buried Ground Committee who were present in 2008 when human remains were uncovered during reconstruction of the city courthouse. The human remains have remained at various locations preserved until a proper reinternment could occur.
Longtime city resident Gabrielle Burton-Hill, who first became involved in the project back in 2019, recognized Ramona Burton, Dr. Benilda Armstead-Jones, Gabrielle Burton-Hill and Pamela Krizek who were present in 2008 and have worked over the past decade towards the reinternment.
“The three of them started this journey in 2008, along with some other folks,” she said. “Various obstacles and barriers and health issues and death, and some people moved away, made it very difficult for this process to actually come to fruition. Here we are, in 2023, ready to celebrate, and also share some historical content with the community at large.”
According to Burton-Hill, the names of those buried in the hillside are unfortunately unknown due to no kept records. In honor of those from the gravesite, Burton-Hill has collected 100 stones to represent the lives of those buried and if possible, that 99 other community members will each take a stone to the new site atop the hill in Downing Park where the city has planned for a reinternment site. The 100 stones represent the remains that are still under the city buildings.
“I hope by doing so, it will show, one, persistence pays off, two, we can get things done when we work together,” she said. “And three, we cannot change the harm from our past but we definitely can start the healing in our present so that we will have a more inclusive, understandable, compassionate, empathetic future for all the residents in the City of Newburgh.”
In July, the Newburgh City Council was presented with several concept renderings of reinternment sites. The site for the reinternment of the remains has been identified at the top of the hill of Downing Park overlooking the Hudson River. By mid-Fall, final designs should be back before the council to review.
“We now have an elected body that is open and willing to right the wrongs of our past. And that’s important that we have elected officials that understand and see and want to be a part of the vision of healing,” she said. “This is an opportunity for community celebration.”