Event Pick: Learn about the black cemetery unearthed beneath a Belair-Edison shopping center

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Image via Gray’s new map of Baltimore (1876)/Public Domain

Would you ever guess that your neighborhood shopping center had been built atop a historic black burial ground? That’s just what happened in the case of the Belair Edison Crossing strip mall, where University of Baltimore anthropology professor Ronald Costanzo in 2015 discovered a white tombstone poking through a parking lot.

The three years since have been a fascinating and, in many ways, troubling excavation, with Costanzo and his students digging up remains that were paved over in the mid-20th century to make way for commercial sprawl. Atlas Obscura (and then The Sun) first dug up news of this discovery this year, chronicling how city officials and state lawmakers enabled development that erased the Laurel Cemetery, the city’s first secular black burial ground.

“If you were somebody of note, the likelihood is that Laurel Cemetery is where you were buried,” Elgin Klugh, chair of Coppin State University’s department of applied social and political sciences, told The Sun.

Today, Costanzo is holding a talk at the Natural History Society of Maryland, located about four miles up Belair Road in Overlea, to talk about his ongoing archaeological dig. Expect a mix of illuminating and regrettable history, and some learning about the cultural importance of historical preservation.

3-4 p.m., 6908 Belair Road, (410) 882-5376, Facebook event.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Associate Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan is Baltimore Fishbowl's associate editor. He previously covered Baltimore-area news as a web producer for Fox45/WBFF-TV. Before arriving in Baltimore, he worked as an assistant editor for CQ Researcher in Washington D.C., and a reporter for Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. Look for his freelance bylines in Baltimore City Paper and DCist.
Ethan McLeod
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1 COMMENT

  1. I don’t think people had to guess since they knew it was there when they paved over it. People in the neighborhood knew and remembered it too. As did anyone who has studied Baltimore history and neighborhoods. Or looked at an old map. It isn’t ancient history.

    Nice it is getting some attention, it’s awful it happened in the first place. Perhaps it will be a lesson to some.

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