Former slave honored with new gravestone at Algiers cemetery in Cleveland

CLEVELAND – Saturday is June 17, which marks the day in 1865 when union soldiers told the last African-Americans enslaved in our country that they were free.

All over northeast Ohio, people are celebrating the day for the first time as a national holiday.

At the Algiers cemetery in the West Park neighborhood of Cleveland, researchers have honored a former slave and Clevelander more than 100 years after his death.

“This gentleman, Henry Wright, was buried 105 years ago,” said Ross Bassett of the West Park Historical Society. “He was born in Louisiana in 1797 in the bayou as a slave. He was a slave there for 30 years.”

Bassett continued, “He has been called one of the greatest slaves in the south. He ended up in Virginia, took the underground railroad to Cleveland, ended up in Lakewood.

According to Bassett, Wright was the first person of color to be buried in the Algiers cemetery.

“He didn’t have money for a tombstone, so when I told the company what I had found they said, ‘Well let’s go get him a tombstone,” Bassett said. .

And 116 years after his death, Wright was officially honored on Saturday as the first black man to be buried in the cemetery.

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