We're the Florida reporters who discovered that up to 800 bodies from Tampa's first African-American cemetery were missing. Ask us anything.
EDIT: Thank everyone for participating and asking questions. If you have more questions, email me at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) and follow me @PGuzzoTimes for further reports on Zion Cemetery.
We are Tampa Bay Times reporter Paul Guzzo and photographer James Borchuck.
We spent nine months seeking answers about Tampa’s first African-American burial ground – Zion Cemetery. How was it erased from this city’s history? And what happened to those once interred there?
Between 1913 and 1920, 382 people were buried in Zion, according to our research.
A cemetery historian claims he found 747 death certificates for Zion.
Travel to Zion now and you'll see restaurant trucks and apartments. In December 1923, the Tampa Times called Zion one of the city's "most prominent and greatly used burial places." That didn't stop developers. In November 1951, as construction was underway on the Robles Park housing project, crews unearthed three caskets from Zion, but there was no further search of the property for more remains. After that, Zion was never publicly discussed again.
During our search, we pored over tens of thousands of records dating back over a century. We still can't find the bodies.
Since our initial article was published, the city has partnered with the University of South Florida and the two owners of the former Zion land – the Tampa Housing Authority and Richard Gonzmart – to find out if more graves are there. That search will include ground penetrating radar.
Two state senators have also announced they will draft a bill to find and protect African American cemeteries throughout Florida.