Tuesday, October 4, 2011

African Burial Ground National Monument

Edited by Azizi Powell

In light of the "Occupy Wall Street" protest movement that began in New York City on 9/17/2011 and is still ongoing & spreading to other cities, it's important to be aware of the history of slavery in New York, and the existence of a cemetery for enslaved African Americans underneath the streets of lower Manhattan.

Here's an excerpt from

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 more than 400 Africans buried during the 17th and 18th centuries. Historians estimate there may have been 15,000-20,000 burials there. The site's excavation and study was called the most important historic urban archeological project in the United States. The site has been designated a National Historic Landmark and National Monument.

These words are inscribed on the African Burial Ground Monument which was dedicated in 2007:

For all those who were lost.
For all those who were stolen.
For all those who were left behind.
For all those who were not forgotten.

Here's an excerpt from
"The African foundations of New York"
by Jane Beresford ; BBC producer of I Too Am America
Monday, 26 April, 2004, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK

The remains of 20,000 African men, women and children have lain beneath the busy streets of New York for 300 years, waiting to tell their stories on the extent of slavery in the city.

...these enslaved Africans helped create the city of New York. They worked as stevedores in the docks and as labourers building the fortification known as Wall Street, which protected the city against attack from Native Americans.

Evidence from the burial site revealed, for the first time, the enormous human cost of such work.

Half of the remains were of children under the age of 12. Women were usually dead by 40.

"It seems that it was cost effective for slave traders to work people to death and then simply to replace them, so they sought to get Africans who were as young as possible, but ready to work," said Mr Blakey.

From royalty to slavery?

The woman designated "Burial 340" was a very intriguing person.

"She was in her 40s - and for the burial ground population that makes her kind of old", said archaeologist Sherrill Wilson, now director of interpretation at the African Burial Ground.

"Around her waist the woman wore a belt of over 100 beads and cowrie shells," she said.

"In some parts of Africa in the 1700s, it's illegal for people who are not members of royal families to own even one of these beads - and she has over 100 buried with her," she added.

Had this woman been born into royalty in Ghana and died a slave in New York City?

Such treasures are known to belong to Akan-speaking people. Had this woman been born into royalty in Ghana and died a slave in New York City?

And who chose to bury her with the waist belt of beads?

"These are very valuable items," said Ms Wilson. "It implies that whoever buried her... could have chosen to sell those items to feed themselves - but they made the choice to bury them with her."

Perhaps it was a tradition, a rite, or an act of defiance against those who had enslaved a woman of noble birth.

The skeletons of 18th Century slaves have spoken to those living free today to remind us that New York - one of the world's great immigrant cities - destroyed as well as created destinies.

For more information, visit "Slavery in New York: Uncovering the brutal truth" by: Martin Frazier; December 2 2005

New York City African Burial Ground Dedication Federal Plaza

Uploaded by vaderkane on Aug 31, 2009

"In 2007, the long awaited opening of the New York African Burial Ground National Memorial took place at Federal Plaza. Among the dignitaries, National Poet Laureate Maya Angelou, actor Avery Brooks, and Sidney Poitier."

African Burial Ground - The New York Connection (Episode 2)

Uploaded by idtvdocs on Sep 15, 2009

"This is where in the 17th and 18th centuries free and enslaved Africans were buried. In 1991, during excavation work for a new office building, a skeleton was found. Later the remains of over 400 men, women and children were exhumed.

Clip taken from "The New York Connection", a Dutch Public TV series about the history of the City of New York in the light of the 400th celebration of the arrival of Henry Hudson. Dutch author Dirk van Weelden wanders through New York and Amsterdam trying to discover traces of New York's Dutch history. He draws a connection between 17th century of the Dutch Republic and contemporary New York. With a.o. Russell Shorto, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Charles Gehring and Jaap Jacobs."

Thanks for visiting pancocojams. Visitor comments are welcome!

Scroll down the page to read comments, to find the comment box, and/or to add comments. If you don’t see the comment box, click on the post’s title to visit that post’s page.

Comments can be posted anonymously or you can use your facebook address or another website address to sign in to comment. However, your address is never shown publicly or given to anyone.
If you aren't sure how to add comments on this blog, follow the instructions found on this page Adding Comments

Share! Learn! Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment