LIBERTY, Mo. — The community dedicated a memorial to former slaves and Black settlers buried in a pauper’s field at the Liberty Cemetery.

The Clay County African American Legacy unveiled the memorial as part of the county’s Juneteenth Celebrations Saturday morning.

The memorial recognizes the 750 Black people buried at the cemetery. Many are in unmarked graves at the segregated cemetery.

The Liberty African American Legacy made it a mission to acknowledge them in their final resting place at Fairview and New Hope cemeteries. The group spent years working to catalogue graves of as many people buried at the cemeteries as possible.

It’s something families with ancestors buried in the cemeteries have waited years to see.

“The other day when they lowered it, that was probably the most exciting part of it because I felt like crying and scream at the same time. Not through pain but the exhilaration of watching this come together,” Shelton Ponder, Liberty African American Legacy member, said.

The names of the 750 people who have been identified are on the new memorial. The Liberty African American Legacy said there may be additional people buried in the cemetery who haven’t been identified.

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