Westchester Historian Dave Thomas Shares New Discoveries at Black Cemetery

What can we learn about Black History from cemeteries? On Wednesday, February 28th, Westchester historian Dave Thomas shared the newest discoveries made at Rye’s African American Cemetery with an appreciative crowd. Westchester County’s Commissioner of Human Rights Tejash Sanchala made introductory remarks. Dave explained how the use of sensitive ground penetrating radar (GPR) found several unmarked burials and monuments; he also showed news articles that supported proof of longtime land ownership by free black families like the Purdys of Harrison. Research and respect for human narratives go hand in hand.

Thank you to Ingraham Taylor and Rita Capek and our partners at the City of Rye’s Human Rights Commission and Tom Kissner from the Port Chester-Rye NAACP. The Jay Estate and the African American Cemetery are 2 of 16 sites on Westchester County’s African American Heritage Trail where visitors can learn more about our whole history.  Our two nonprofits have been partners since 2010 advancing  awareness about local Black heritage and the resilient stories of real women and men, enslaved and free, who lived and worked in our community.  Photos by Kim Crichlow