ALBANY, New York — In the 1860’s Irish immigrants in the U.S. were a socially marginalized religious and ethnic group and St. Agnes Cemetery in Albany, which is regulated by the Catholic Diocese of Albany, was created to give that community a respectable place to honor their dead.
Saturday, they extended that same honor to 14 African-American slaves who passed away over 150 years ago, WISH-TV reports.
“Here many communities have come together,” said Jonathan Cohen, spokesman for the Albany Diocesan Cemeteries. “The Catholic community the African-American community, and they have found a way to appropriately honor these fourteen individuals and give them the right of burial and remembrance that they deserve; and which helps us come together as neighbors and Americans.”
The 14 people honored Saturday were owned by General Philip Schuyler, a hero of the Revolutionary War. Their remains were found during a construction project in Colonie.
Cordelle Reaves, with the Schuyler Flats Burial Project, says each of the 14 reliquaries are completely unique and hand-made.
“Each one is meant to be an artistic tribute to each of the people we are burying,” said Reaves. “To give them a level of dignity and honor that they wouldn’t have received in life.”
Over 100 people from all corners of the Capital Region came together to honor these 14 African-Americans; six women, five infants, two children and one man who can now truly, rest side by side.