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Memorial Day Program Planned At African American Cemetery In Rye

Friends of the African American Cemetery, a local nonprofit based in Rye, has scheduled a Memorial Day service at the African American Cemetery within Greenwood Union Cemetery on May 28.
Friends of the African American Cemetery, a local nonprofit based in Rye, has scheduled a Memorial Day service at the African American Cemetery within Greenwood Union Cemetery on May 28. Photo Credit: Facebook

RYE, N.Y. – An organization that oversees the historic African American Cemetery within Greenwood Union Cemetery is to hold a Memorial Day service there at 10 a.m. on May 28.

The 1-acre site at 215 North Street was donated by the Halstead family 150 years ago with the condition that it “shall forever hereafter (be) kept, held and used for the purpose of a cemetery or burial place for the colored inhabitants of the said Town of Rye, and its vicinity free and clear of any change therefor ...”

The Friends of the African American Cemetery, Inc., strives to maintain that promise.

The cemetery is listed on the National, New York state and Westchester County registers of historic places and has been the focus of restoration and cleaning efforts since 2010, when the town, numerous local branches of the NAACP, Building Community Bridges, and the American Legion Post #93 launched a successful awareness campaign.

There are 119 known people buried in the cemetery, including 22 veterans of the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I and World War II. The last burial on the ground was held in 1964, according to the organization.

Since 2010, ceremonies have been held at the site on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. At each service, a new face appears, a new story is shared or a new connection is made to someone buried there, event organizers said.

This year, the Friends of the African American Cemetery has received nonprofit status. For more information or to contribute to the Friends of the African American Cemetery, contact David Thomas at 914-886-5710 or email afamcemetery@gmail.com. The group can also be found on Facebook .

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