African burial ground in New York City dedicated as National Monument

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Artist's impression of the monument.
Image: Rodney Leon/NPS.

The African Burial Ground National Monument in New York City was dedicated today. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993, after being rediscovered in 1991. The ceremony opens a monument that cost US$5 million and features a sunken courtyard.

In February of 2006, United States President George W. Bush issued a proclamation that established the burial ground as a national monument.

"The African Burial Ground National Monument will promote understanding of related resources, encourage continuing research, and present interpretive opportunities and programs for visitors to better understand and honor the culture and vital contributions of generations of Africans and Americans of African descent to our Nation," said Bush in the proclamation, vowing to make sure the site is protected.

Many may be unaware of slavery in New York, but it was present, and this monument makes it impossible to forget. The National Park Service estimated that 15,000-20,000 freed and still-enslaved slaves were buried within a six block area. So far only 400 remains of bodies have been found.

It is only the 123rd National Monument in the nation, while there are 110 National Historic Landmarks in New York City alone.