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121 unmarked graves in a former Black cemetery found at MacDill Air Force Base, officials say

Stephanie Colombini/WUSF Public Media

As many as 121 unmarked graves in a former Black cemetery have been discovered at a U.S. Air Force base in Florida, military officials confirmed.

A non-intrusive archaeological survey performed over the past two years at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa identified 58 probable graves and 63 possible graves, base officials said Thursday, WFTS-TV reported. The Tampa Bay History Center notified MacDill officials about the possible Black cemetery in 2019, and the base hosted a memorial service in 2021, dedicating a memorial on-site to those buried there.

“We know obviously there was wrong done in the past, but we’re working together with our community members," base spokesperson Lt. Laura Anderson said. "We want to make what was wrong right."

Officials said they plan to expand the search area this year and will continue to work with the community to determine how to best document the site and to pay respect to the people buried there.

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