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.
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