In 1991, I was living in New York when the burial place of Africans who were enslaved and free were discovered at what is now 290 Broadway in downtown Manhattan. Their remains were buried from the late 1600’s to the 1794. It is only recently in 2013 that I am fully understanding and appreciating the African Burial Ground in the context of a long history of Africans and people of African descent . . . my history . . . our history.
The National Parks Service offers a broad experience at the monument including an indoor video and exhibition at the museum, and an outdoor memorial.
Some of the focus is on the spiritual implications of a people in bondage holding onto their humanity by burying loved ones in the midst of oppression and violence. Only humans bury their dead. The curators offer insightful social and cultural context to the lives of people of African descent including how some labored and family lives.
Learn more reading Audrey Peterman’s “African Burial Ground National Monument: Peace at Last” in Our True Nature: Finding a Zest of Life in the National Park System.
Photos by Dianne Glave