Nearly 130 gravesites discovered underneath Tampa apartment complex

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Almost 130 gravesites have been found underneath the Robles Park housing complex. Archeologists believe this is the city's first-ever Black cemetery.

The Tampa Housing Authority was notified of the discovery of 126 gravesites under the 1,100 person complex, which was built in 1951. The building was whites-only back then.

The city's memory of the early 1900s cemetery faded, those buried were relegated as second class.

The resident council president, Reva Iman became emotional when she heard the news.

"Those are African Americans," said Iman. "I can imagine what they went through back then."

A woman who lived at Robles Park told Iman she was sure she felt the presence of ghosts.

"Now, I believe her," Iman said.

Archaeologists with Cardno found "indications" of caskets, between three and six feet under.

The Tampa Housing Authority said it is now planning a memorial.

"History wasn't important to certain people at that time," said Lillian Stringer, of the Tampa Housing Authority. "Once you become aware of this, it becomes a part of your history."

"It is so important to know and understand where your forefathers have come from, and what they have gone through, in order for you to move two steps ahead," said Yvette Lewis, of the Hillsborough County NAACP.

Cardno archaeologists said at least 400 death certificates have been found, but it would be nearly impossible to determine who is buried where.

"It is very hurting to know that this was done," said Iman. "If I could have changed anything to make it right, I would do anything within my power, my body, my strength to make it right."

Residents in buildings closest to the cemetery will be relocated to other apartments. It is unclear as to whether there are more gravesites underneath the current building structures.