Lost lives, fresh heartache as a black cemetery is found buried under a high school

TAMPA — In an empty field behind the football stadium of King High School, small pink flags flutter in the breeze. A few long rows and then clumps of flags here and there, 145 at last count. Beneath each lies a coffin where an African American was buried barely 70 years ago — buried and within a decade or so, abandoned. Many were children.

The radar-aided discovery of the former city cemetery, which was willfully disregarded in the late 1950s and then sold, has this community reeling. Ridgewood is the second such burial ground in recent months to be identified; the other, Zion Cemetery, had been cleared for a housing project mid-century.

And there could be more sites. The military is investigating a wooded lot at MacDill Air Force Base that once may have been the final resting place for black residents.

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