Carlisle Borough issues apology for removal of headstones from Lincoln Cemetery in 1972

Carlisle/West Shore

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — This week, Carlisle Borough issued an apology for what happened in 1972 when the Borough Council turned an African-American cemetery into a park.

Decendents of those buried there say it’s an important step to take.

Mayor Tim Scott acknowledges this apology is long overdue and says a committee has been working to reestablish Lincoln Cemetery as sacred ground.

In May of 2019 the graduating class of the U.S. Army War College donated an archway to the cemetery.

“I’m like hold on, you’re accepting a gift but you’re accepting a gift for the child that you kind of neglected and hid in the closet and haven’t really been doing anything with,” said TaWanda Stallworth.

Stallworth has been pushing the borough for years to recognize…And apologize for what happened in the early 70’s.

“The borough decided through cover of darkness for the most part to remove the headstones,” Scott said. “The residents pleaded with them not to do that and all but one of the headstones was removed.”

That one headstone marks the graves of Stallworth’s ancestors.

She says only after a reporter from the Sentinel questioned Scott this week, was an apology issued.

“Reactions to those things usually aren’t the best ways to do it,” Stallworth said. That’s not lasting.”

Scott says a committee had been working on a more formal ceremony after the 2019 dedication, but things got away from them.

“I’m just asking for people’s patience and to realize that we all worked together to get to this point and we will continue to work together to finish this out and make sure that this space is properly recognized for the sacred ground that it is,” Scott said.

“I’m glad that people are finally beginning to move into a way of reconciliation and sort of recognizance of that time,” Stallworth said.

Scott says he plans to introduce the formal resolution to the committee and then hopefully have the borough council vote to adopt that resolution at the next council meeting.

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