Slave Cemetery Discovered Under Florida Golf Club. So How About Stop Playing Golf There?

Florida Golf Club
Photo: Cliff Hawkins (Getty Images)

Zack Linly

A huge spotlight has recently been put on the Capital City Country Club, in Tallahassee, Fla., after it was discovered that the seventh fairway of its golf course sits on top of at least 40 graves of long-deceased victims of American slavery.

According to an article published by the Associated Press, “The rumors swirled for decades: a dark history long lay buried under the grassy knolls and manicured lawns of a country club in Florida’s capital city, Tallahassee.”

The discovery was made thanks to the combined efforts of park service archaeologist Jeffrey Shanks, who uncovered the gravesite location, and the immediate past president of the Tallahassee chapter of the NAACP, Delaitre Hollinger, who did research on the plot of land and the rumors regarding its history. Hollinger discovered an old newspaper article that talked about the site and contacted city officials for help uncovering the graves. Hollinger had this to say to the AP while visiting the site:

“When I stand here on a cemetery for slaves, it makes me thoughtful and pensive. They deserve much better than this, and they deserved much better than what occurred in that era.”

Indeed, they do.

So now there’s a big discussion on how best to memorialize the site and the African-American bodies laid to rest there. To some, this may be a complicated issue requiring a nuanced conversation, but for me, it’s quite simple: just stop playing golf there.

I understand it would probably take loads of effort and manpower to remove an entire section of a golf course and put it somewhere else. And in a country where “plantation weddings” continue to be a thing, many people will resent that such a big fuss is being made at all. But I’d like to think people might keep the same energy they’d have if people were golfing over Ground Zero or some Holocaust memorial; because its very much the same thing.

Shanks called the discovery of these graves a significant historical find because so many slave cemeteries are unaccounted for.

“It’s a really serious problem,” Shanks said. “It’s not just a Florida problem. It’s really a problem across the south-east.” This should give us an idea of the importance of preserving these rediscovered burial grounds and how much work there is to be done.

As for Hollinger, who leads the push to properly memorialize the grounds, he wants to reroute golf carts and fence off the area. In addition, he’s proposed a small memorial that will tell the story of the property—including how it profited from the labor of slaves.

Honestly, that’s the least that can be done.

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