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Former slave honored with new headstone at Algers Cemetery in Cleveland

Henry Wright.jpg
Posted at 9:03 PM, Jun 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-20 10:57:31-04

CLEVELAND — Saturday is Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 when union soldiers told the last enslaved African Americans in our country, they were free.

All across Northeast Ohio people are honoring the day for the first time as a national holiday.

At Alger Cemetery in Cleveland’s West Park neighborhood, researchers 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, West Park Historical Society. "He was born in Louisiana in 1797 in the bayou as a slave. He was a slave down there for 30 years."

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

According to Bassett, Wright was the first person of color buried at Alger Cemetery.

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

And 116 years after his death, Wright was formally honored Saturday as the first Black man buried in the cemetery.

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