African Burial Ground Essay

478 Words2 Pages
In May of 1991, a three hundred year silence was shattered with the discovery of the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan. Widely acknowledged as one of the most significant American archeological finds of the twentieth century. Prior to the 1991 discovery, plans to erect a 34-story, $276-million federal building required that a cultural resource survey, including archeological field-testing, be completed. Under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, such research is required on any project using public funds that may have the potential to impact historic resources. During the last days of the excavation, the archaeological team discovered a missing chapter of New York history¿the…show more content…
The African American community, joined by public figures and private individuals, responded immediately, voicing concerns that the African Burial Ground would not be given the reverence it deserved.Slavery in New York began during the 1600s, when the Dutch West India Company brought African slaves to the New Amsterdam…show more content…
Shells also had meaning, reflecting the belief that they "enclose the soul 's immortal presence."By the 1790s, free African Americans established the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and, in 1794, formed the African Society. The Society opened a new cemetery and the African Burial Ground was closed. Although the site was known to be a cemetery, real estate pressures took priority in the rapidly expanding city, and subdividing of the land began in 1795. A street grid, followed by commercial, industrial, and residential development, erased the memory of the cemetery.A memorial site designed by Rodney L¿on was completed in 2007. The memorial consists of a sunken Libation Court (gathering space for cultural ceremonies). It is surrounded by a Circle of the Diaspora inscribed with signs, symbols, and images of the African Diaspora.A Wall of Remembrance describes events that contributed to the African Burial Ground 's creation. The reinterment locations are marked with four Ancestral Pillars.the African Burial Ground is possibly the only preserved, urban, eighteenth-century African cemetery in America. The site and memorial also contribute to New York 's cultural richness, adding to an array of monuments celebrating the city 's immigrant
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