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Chronicles: African Burial Ground

maya_angelouIn 1991, work began on new federal offices in downtown New York City but excavators soon turned-up something they weren’t bargaining for, skeletal remains. Building halted while archaeologists moved in to excavate what would end up to be the largest bioarchaeological site of its kind, which uncovered 419 men, women and children. The bodies were that of free and enslaved Africans who were buried outside the boundaries of New Amsterdam in a 6.6 acre burial ground during the 17th and 18th centuries. During that time, “New York had more enslaved Africans than any other port north of the Caribbean except Charleston, South Carolina.”

African Burial Ground Memorial

In October of 2003, the remains were reinterred during a ceremony called the Rites of Ancestral Return and a dedication naming the site the African Burial Ground, at which Maya Angelou spoke, was held. A new memorial marking the site was created and is now a National Monument.


African Burial Ground
Duane St and Elk St, New York, 10007 – (212) 637-2019

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