In 1991 during the excavation for an office building in lower Manhattan, workers found more than 400 skeletal remains of African Americans. They had found the “Negros Burial Ground”.
While in New York another site that we all should visit is the African Burial Ground National Monument and its visitor center. It is about the other scar of the American history left by slavery. On October 5, 2007 the memorial was dedicated and is now a place for contemplation, reflection and meditation. This memorial remind us of the great contribution of African Americans to Manhattan in the colonial era. They worked hard and some of them had a violent end.
Disturbing findings on the bodies’ age, cause of death, diet, health, and physical condition were documented by Howard University. ” Nine percent of the burials were children under the age of two, a death rate disproportionately higher than the rest of the population. Further research exposed malnutrition, delayed bone development, backbreaking labor, and recurrent illnesses.” *
Controversy arouse after the findings and it was not until 1992 that congress approved the stop of the construction and memorization began. In 1993 it was considered a National Historic Landmark. Remains were carefully removed for study by the Howard University and in 2003 they were placed in a mahogamy coffin and transported to a near location where they were found.
A 1967 british law prohibited African Americans to bury their loved ones in public burial grounds. An area for their burial was assigned on the outskirts of the developing city until the 1790’s when the land was put for sale . Even tough it was illegal for them to gather in groups of more than 12, they remained close to their tradition of laying the dead with respect and dignity. A representation of a burial ceremony is the centerpiece of the museum. Here you will learn more than what you might already know about their life and death.
Monument closes during the winter season but the visitor center is open.
Expect airport type security.
They often have events, so check their Calendar.
Monument is between Broadway and Duane St. Visitor Center in 290 Broadway/Ted Weiss Federal Building and the outdoor memorial behind the building at the Duane St. and Elk St. corner.