Archaeologists validate deacon's claims that county paved over Black cemetery

The Kinnemore family of DeKalb County cherishes their gravesite that sits off Wilson Road not far from Lawrenceville Highway. It sits above a far more expansive piece of property now identified by archaeologists as an African-American cemetery paved over by the county and private developers in the late-1960s.

"I think it was intentional," said Deacon Fred Kinnemore, who believes county officials and developers flagrantly disrespected members of the predominantly Black St. Paul Baptist Church, whose ancestors were buried on the property.

Deacon Kinnemore is one of the decedents of those buried underneath the road and the homes that now line the street now. Poor health and a 50-year long battle to expose the truth have taken a toll. He's a man of few words now.

"He stressed and worries so much about the situation because of the pain and the suffering of just knowing that family members are buried up under the street and nobody seemed to care," said Rev. Eddie C. Mosley of St. Paul Baptist Church.

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond praised the Deacon's persistence during a presentation to board members Tuesday morning, saying Kinnemore is the reason why the CEO hired archaeologists to conduct a ground-penetrating radar survey that led to the proof of the deacon's claims.

"Now that there is evidence that there is at least one burial site, it's incumbent upon us as elected officials and human beings to determine the number of graves that are there. We have to ensure the remains are respected and if necessary, removed and reinterred in a more appropriate way," said Thurmond.

Pastor Mosley said the entire church congregation is grateful for the deacon's persistence and the county's willingness to investigate how to right a wrong that dates back decades and impacts the remains of dozens of African-Americans who attended the church. But the pastor the CEO's apology in front of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning is a good start.

"On behalf of the CEO's office, I would like to apologize to Deacon Kinnemore who has been maligned, dismissed, and ignored for more than 50 years as he tried to advocate and educate the rest of this county to facts he knew to be true," said CEO Thurmond.

"When we got the call from the CEO on Thursday, [Deacon Kinnemore] was very joyful. We're all very joyful that we're getting resolution, finally," said Pastor Mosley.

WATCH: FOX 5 Atlanta live news coverage


Sign up for FOX 5 email alerts

Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.