The Stolen Remains of 19 Black People Who Died in the 1800s Are Now Being Cared for By Philly Youth

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Nationwide — A group of young people from Philadelphia who are a part of the National Youth Foundation are stepping up to care for and beautify the grave site for the stolen remains of 19 African Americans who died in the 1800s. Their remains were previously housed at Penn Museum which is owned by the University of Pennsylvania since 1966. However, earlier this year, the remains were given a proper final resting place in a private ceremony held at Eden Cemetery in Collingdale, Pennsylvania. 

The remains of these deceased men and women are collectively referred to as the “Black Philadelphians” and were stolen by a physician named Samuel G. Morton who in the early 19th century decided to use their remains for his horrible, pseudoscientific eugenics research. Morton and his cohorts unethically stole the remains and housed them at the Academy of Natural Sciences where he had served as President. 

However, now that the remains have been buried with dignity, The National Youth Foundation, the “I Matter” Project, and the historic Eden Cemetery recently collaborated for a youth beautification and education initiative. More than 50 young people planted flowers around the gravesite and even held a private ceremony to educate the local community about the history of the “Black Philadelphians”.  Today, this same historic burial ground serves as the final resting place for numerous Black trailblazers such as Marian Anderson, who is celebrated as one of the most renowned contralto singers of the 20th century, and William Still, often referred to as the “Father of the Underground Railroad,” who played a vital role in aiding those escaping slavery on their journey to freedom.