African Burial Ground National Monument

__notoc__Infobox Protected area
name = African Burial Ground National Monument
iucn_category = III

caption =
location = New York, New York, USA
nearest_city =
lat_degrees = 40
lat_minutes = 42
lat_seconds = 52
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 74
long_minutes = 0
long_seconds = 15
long_direction = W
area = 0.345 acre (1,400 m²)
established = February 27, 2006
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
governing_body = National Park Service
Infobox_nrhp2 | name =African Burying Ground
nhl = yes

caption =
location= New York, New York
lat_degrees = 40
lat_minutes = 42
lat_seconds = 49.2
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 73
long_minutes = 59
long_seconds = 37.8
long_direction = W
locmapin = New York
area =
built =
architect= Rodney Leon
designated_nhl = April 19, 1993
added = April 19, 1993
governing_body = National Park Service
refnum=93001597cite web|url=|title=National Register Information System|date=2007-01-23|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]

African Burial Ground National Monument at Duane Street and African Burial Ground Way (Elk Street) in Lower Manhattan (New York City) preserves a site containing the remains of over 400 African Americans buried during the 17th and 18th centuries.

African Americans in New York City

Slavery in the New York City area was introduced by the Dutch in New Netherland in the early 1600s. Africans were imported only as slaves, but some became half-free during Dutch times, before New Amsterdam was captured by the British in 1664. Perth Amboy in New Jersey was a busy duty-free center for the importation of slaves. During the Revolutionary war, there were about 10,000 Africans in New York.

New York abolished slavery in 1827; New Jersey abolished slavery only gradually, substituting indentureship for slavery in 1804, and at the time of the American Civil War there were former slaves who were still "indentured for life" in New Jersey.cite web|url=
title=Slavery in New York, an exhibition by the New York Historical Society |accessdate=2008-02-11|work= |publisher=
] cite web|url= |quote=In 1991 excavators for a new federal office building in Manhattan unearthed the remains of more than 400 Africans stacked in wooden boxes sixteen to twenty-eight feet below street level.
title=The Hidden History of Slavery in New York |accessdate=2008-02-11|work= |publisher=The Nation

Discovery of site and controversy

The remains were found in 1991 during the construction of the Foley Square Federal Office Building. Construction was halted in order to properly preserve the remains. A redesign of the building was ordered to provide adequate room for a memorial. On April 19, 1993, the site was designated a National Historic Landmark.cite web|url=
title=African Burial Ground|date=2007-09-14|work=National Historic Landmark summary listing|publisher=National Park Service
] citation|title=PDFlink| [ National Register of Historic Places Registration: African Burial Ground] |1.39 MiB |date=November 9, 1992|author=Jean Howson and Gale Harris|publisher=National Park Service] citation|title=PDFlink| [ National Register of Historic Places Registration: African Burial Ground--Accompanying 11 photos from 1992.] |1.28 MiB |date=November 8, 1992|publisher=National Park Service]

Historians believe the site to have been the interment location for as many as 15,000 to 20,000 African-American men, women, and children over the years of its use, which stretched from the 17th century to its closure in 1812.cite news
title=Memorial dedicated at African Burial Ground
author=Frank Lombardi
quote=The cemetery was covered by waves of development and forgotten until 1991, when 415 bone artifacts and skeletons were unearthed in preparation to erect a federal office building at 290 Broadway.
date=October 6 2007
publisher=The New York Daily News
] New York Governor David Paterson is reported to have dubbed the grounds "our Ellis Island".

The construction project became controversial because some believed the research design originally proposed was not adequate. It did not have a plan for the treatment of uncovered remains. In addition, the African-American descendant community in New York City was not consulted in the development of the research design, nor were any archaeologists with experience studying the African diaspora. After protests from a coalition of community members, politicians, and scholars, control of the burial site was transferred to Michael Blakey and his team at Howard University for study.


On February 27, 2006, President George W. Bush signed a proclamation designating the federal land as the 123rd National Monument.cite web|url=
title=National Monuments Numbered |accessdate=2007-10-05|work=|publisher=National Park Service
] It was the 390th unit of the National Park System.

As part of the dedication ceremonies, Elk Street was officially renamed African Burial Ground Way. [cite news
title=African Burial Ground Memorial Opening Events
date=October 1 2007
publisher=Lower Manhattan Development Corporation

A design competition attracted 61 proposals for a site memorial. The winning memorial design was chosen in June 2004 and was dedicated on October 5, 2007. The grounds serve as a location for various cultural exhibitions and events throughout the year.

The memorial design for a convert|25|ft|m|sing=on granite monument was by Haitian-American architect Rodney Leon. [cite web
title=Rodney Leon Tapped to Design National Historic Landmark; Winner to Create Memorial for 17th, 18th-Century Africans
date=May 6 2005
publisher=Exodus News
] It is titled "The Door of Return", in reference to The Door of No Return, a name given to slave ports on the coast of West Africa.cite news
title=New York opens slave burial site
date=October 6 2007
quote=The late 17th Century burial site was gradually built over as New York expanded, but was rediscovered during an excavation in 1991. Some 400 remains, many of children, were found during excavations. Half of the remains found at the burial site were of children under the age of 12.
publisher=BBC News
] The monument was dedicated in a ceremony presided by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and poet Maya Angelou.

ee also

*History of slavery in New York
*History of slavery in New Jersey


External links

* [ African Burial Ground National Monument] - Official NPS website
* [ African Burial Ground National Monument presidential proclamation]
* [ Announcement of National Monument proclamation]
* [ African Burial Ground Informational site] - GSA

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