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Tour Rye’s Landmark African American Cemetery This Saturday

African American Cemetary Rye

(PHOTO: Veteran's service in 2016 organized by FOAAC – Friends of the African American Cemetery.)

Beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 28, 2019, the Westchester County African American Advisory Board Committee Commemorating African American History in Westchester County, (AAHW) joined by the Jay Heritage Center and Friends of the African American Cemetery, will host docent-led tours of Rye's landmark African American Cemetery. The cemetery is a one-acre parcel of land positioned in the Greenwood Union Cemetery, located at 215 North Street in Rye. It was a donation of the Halsted family with the condition that it "shall forever hereafter 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 charge therefore…"

“There is a lot of history here that needs to be remembered,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. “Underneath the grounds of this cemetery lie hundreds of African Americans whose lives both as war veterans and local residents remain unknown. These tours will provide a unique opportunity for visitors to learn more about the freed and escaped slaves, and ensure that those interred here are never forgotten.”

Chairperson of the African-American Advisory Board Barbara Edwards, Esq. agreed that this notable event is ideal to kick-off a series of activities celebrating African-American history, heritage and culture, affording Westchester County residents an opportunity to tour this sacred site, and learn of the rich legacies of those buried there.

In addition to the tour, there will be opportunities to learn about the ongoing monument restoration efforts by “Friends” organizer David Thomas, Port Chester/Rye NAACP​ and many others including the Westchester County Youth Bureau and Boy Scouts of America, Incorporated. Beginning at 3 p.m., participants are invited to an opening reception of breathtaking historic late 19th and early 20th century photos at Jay Heritage Center, featuring those buried at the cemetery and descendants of the families interred at the cemetery who will share memories with the attendees. The cemetery tour, reception and photo exhibit are free and open to the public.

“This has been such an enlightening experience and I am happy to have learned that The African-American History Cemetery in Rye has been recognized nationally, as well as at the state and local levels, among the most prominent historic places” said Committee Chairperson Kisha Skipper. “I would like to personally thank our Friends of the African American Cemetery and the Jay Heritage Center for partnering with us in our efforts to preserve African-American history and heritage here in Westchester.”

For more information about commemoration events and activities contact Committee Chairperson Kisha Skipper at 914-510-7101, email AAHW400CC@gmail.com.

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