The Kingston Land Trust Celebrates Black History Month with the Mt. Zion African-American Cemetery Rededication Film.

Clergy waits to be led to the ceremony.

In celebration of Black History Month, The Kingston Land Trust and the KLT African-American History Committee present the Mt. Zion African-American Cemetery Re-dedication film to Elementary school students in the Kingston School District in February. The cemetery, the second African-American Cemetery in Kingston, represents the key component of the history of the African-American Community in Kingston from the mid 19th Century and onwards.

Kingston – In honor of Black History Month, the Kingston Land Trust and the KLT African-American History Committee will present a film capturing the Mt. Zion African-American Cemetery Rededication Ceremony that took place last year on June 5th, 2011. Close to 200 people were in attendance that included family members who drove as far away as Washington DC to take part in this historic event. With the help of filmmaker Liz Joyce, The Kingston Land Trust successfully documented the afternoon.

Dedicated to outreach and education, the committee will present the film in Kingston’s Community Centers (Rondout Neighborhood Center) and to Elementary School students at St. Joseph School, Kingston in collaboration with schools in the Kingston City School district such as the GW Elementary School and Zena Elementary School. Youth will have the opportunity to view the film and participate in a short panel discussion with family members who have generations of family buried at the Mt. Zion Cemetery, the film maker, and Pastor Kenneth Walsh of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston to discuss their statement of reconciliation, an apology to the African-American community for ” our history of dehumanizing racism that allowed for the enslavement and subsequent segregation of our sisters and brothers of African descent.”

Although these events are not open to the public, if your organization or school wish to host the film in 2012, please contact Rebecca Martin, Executive Director of the Kingston Land Trust at or call 845-877-LAND (5263) for more information.


About the Kingston Land Trust African-American History Committee: The Kingston Land Trust African-American History Committee is charged to uphold the integrity, accomplishments and contributions made by African-Americans who lived or are living in the City of Kingston, NY.

About the Mt. Zion African-American Cemetery in Kingston, NY: The Zion African-American Cemetery, the second African American Cemetery in Kingston, represents the key component of the history of the African American community in Kingston from the mid 19th Century onwards. The earliest documented grave is believed to date to circa 1856 while the latest is believed to be 1967, the approximate period of significance although the cemetery has been said to date back earlier. The property appears to have been deeded to the Village of Kingston in 1858. Mt. Zion Cemetery Association was formed in 1891 with the Kingston Common Council approving preparation of a deed that same year. A list of approx 90 persons known to be buried here was drawn up from research in the 1980’s. The cemetery contains names of many of Kingston’s early African American families and includes Dutch and French Huguenot surnames of Ulster County families for whom their family members had likely once served as slaves and as such forms a vital visible legacy for Kingston’s African American community. In addition, a notable number of veterans are buried in this cemetery including numerous Civil War veterans who served in the US Colored Troops, 20th Regiment. The direct association with the 20th Regiment connects the cemetery to Civil War events in and around New Orleans and Port Hudson, Louisiana which are among the places the regiment was stationed and to the Chalmette National Cemetery just outside New Orleans where some local members of the 20th Regiment who passed away while in service are buried. The cemetery has the potential and probability of illustrating lifestyle and traditions of Kingston’s African American community and encompassing important information relevant to the study of the material culture and social history of this community over an extended period and thereby reflecting historic associations from Kingston’s early period of settlement through the end of the period of significance, as well as containing the graves of members of the USCT 20th Regiment whose activities helped determine the course of events in national history during the Civil War.

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