Standing in Way of Alabama Walmart: Slave Graves
New Florence location's driveway could interfere with old cemetery
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2012 9:26 AM CDT
Walmart faces an unusual challenge in Alabama.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The headaches of new construction: obtaining permits, securing financing, making sure you don't disturb a slave graveyard. The New York Times reports on an unusual situation in Florence, Alabama, where Walmart has plans to open a new store. The issue is that its selected location abuts Coffee Cemetery, the final resting place of Edward O'Neal's ancestors, who bought the land nearly two centuries ago—and their 80 slaves.

Problem is, no one knows exactly where the slaves, who were not given headstones, were buried ... but historical evidence indicates they may be located in the very place designated for Walmart's new driveway. Walmart has promised to spend $25,000 to restore the weathered cemetery, and says it won't disturb the graves. But that's easier said than done, considering the conflicting clues: a 1903 deed that says the cemetery was a square, and decades-old aerial photos indicating it was a rectangle—and therefore in Walmart's way. Also in its way: a number of the town's 39,000 residents, who are protesting the store's presence in general. Click for the full, fascinating story.

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Showing 3 of 25 comments
hatchling1
May 17, 2012 7:23 AM CDT
Walmart has destroyed more small towns around the country and world than can be counted. When they arrive, the local community and retail center dies... all so Walmart can push their Chinese made goods. Some people welcome Walmarts in their communities, until they discover the true economic price for those discounted poptarts and sneakers... loss of local businesses and downtowns, slave labor wages, union busting and non-local corporate influences over zoning, services and regulations. Florence Alabama, a town I know a little about, used to grow cotton and have textile manufacturing mills producing clothing and fabric ... until giant corporations killed that off by ending local resourcing, sending the jobs to China and India. Today, even the cotton is grown elsewhere, the fabric and clothing is made in China and elsewhere and imported into the USA for sale in Walmarts around the country. Local residents no longer have decent paying jobs thanks to large multinationals. I suppose locating a Walmart on top of a local graveyard is simply the final coup d'etat.
Antagonist
May 16, 2012 4:19 PM CDT
Wow, Walmart is going to throw $25K their way... Pretty Fucked up!!! Should be trowing $25M their way, $25M to wall-mart is like a drop in the ocean.
realtruth
May 16, 2012 2:07 PM CDT
What is really neat is that ate least part of the town, Doesn’t even want a Wal-Mart.. It totally ruins a Small Town Atmosphere.. No More Corner Shoe Store.. Or Jim's Drugstore.