The city has finalized a redesign of the burial ground, the final resting place for hundreds of African-Americans, Native Americans and others marganlized people during the 1800s.
That group includes Queens residents who died during disease outbreaks in the mid-19th century, and were not allowed to be buried alongside their neighbors at Flushing Cemetery just across the street.
The new and improved burial ground will feature a commemorative plaza with more than 300 names engraved. The Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground Conservancy has been working with Queens College to research the names of those buried there, and are bound to uncover even more names in the coming years.
This is a very important step to make things right for the people who were disrespected for so long. As elected officials and community leaders noted at the unveiling, they were our ancestors, our predecessors, in what would become the most diverse borough in the world.
Our city and nation have wronged many people in our history, and in many cases continue to perpetuate those wrongs. In a country that enslaved black people, barred immigrants from entry, exploited laborers, segregated entire communities and prevented civil rights for decades, this is no surprise.
While acknowledging those evils is the first step, the second step must be corrective action.
By building a monument to those who contributed to our city but never received the honor they deserved, the city is attempting to right those wrongs.
Now, as Queens residents, business owners and community leaders, we must build on their legacy. We must commit ourselves to making our borough a more just, equitable and fair society for everyone.