Located in Lower Manhattan, the African Burial Ground National Monument is dubbed as the most significant historic archaeological initiative within a city in the United States. It holds and safeguards the corpses of more than 400 Africans buried in the area spanning the 17th and 18th century. According to experts, 15,000 to 20,000 burials of Africans ? men, women and children who lived during an era when slavery was prevalent ? may have been carried out where the monument now stands. New York then was called New Amsterdam.
The discovery of the burial ground was serendipity. The remains were excavated in 1991 while constructing the Foley Square Federal Office Building. The proprietor of the project stopped the construction to appropriately preserve the remains that were excavated. The high profile project attracted several criticisms from different interest groups citing that the African community in New York was not consulted in its development. After extensive debates and discussions, the control over the burial site was turned over to Howard University for further research.
Archaeologists estimate that approximately 200 burials remain undisturbed at the 6.6-acre land containing African Burial Ground National Monument. After employing scientific procedures, it was confirmed that the remains do belong to an African descent. These human artifacts were replicated and were reburied in a solemn ceremony.
The African Burial Ground National Monument is a 25-foot granite work of art that shows a map of the Atlantic region alluding to the middle passage and to slave harbors on the shores of West Africa wherein drones of Africans were exported as slaves to the United States. It became the country?s 123rd National Monument in 2006 after a decree by then president George W. Bush Jr.
Today, the African Burial Ground National Monument pays tribute to the thousands of Africans who died in slavery in New York. Every February, a series of events to celebrate the Black History Month is held here. The national monument?s visitors? area also showcases four exhibits and a 20-minute film to educate people about African history in New York.
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