Begun in 1860, the Wilmington Board of Commissioners purchased and set aside land next to the white cemetery, Oakdale Cemetery, for the burials of the enslaved. After the Civil War, the cemetery was incorporated as Pine Forest Cemetery to serve as a cemetery for the Black citizens of Wilmington. The cemetery was officially incorporated in 1871.
During the 1898 Wilmington Massacre, where violent white supremacists killed 60-400 people and burned the offices of the Black newspapers, many citizens hid in the cemetery for safety. The massacre was the only successful overthrow of a government in the United States. The Reconstruction-era elected officials were all thrown out of office.
Many of the older markers have been painted in blue or pink paint. I am not certain why.