African Burial Grounds National Park in NYC | Trip of Change Podcast

by Jackie Robinson
15 views 5 min read

One of the highlights of my trip to NYC with a travel companion, Dana Bach, was the visit to the “African Burial Grounds”. It is on the National Park Service registry and worthy of collecting a stamp. The burial grounds was the last place on the list to visit. They have a memorial, small museum and gift shop. It was unbelievable to feel the vibration rising from the ground in the memorial as I sounded off and spoke to the ancestors!

If you are ever in NYC, be sure to visit this park. It’s only 3 blocks from NYC City Hall (where they film Law and Order).

For additional questions regarding visitation to the African Burial Ground National Monument please call (212) 238-4367

History of the African Burial Grounds

African Burial Ground is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. It protects the historic role slavery played in building New York.

In 1991, construction began on a 34-story federal office tower positioned on 290 Broadway and overseen by the General Services Administration (GSA). Federally funded construction projects are mandated to comply with Section 106 in the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. A “Stage 1A Cultural Resource Survey,” was completed in the area of Republican Alley in 1989 prior to construction. The compliance cultural research study assisted archeologists to determine any potential archeological and cultural impacts of construction on 290 Broadway.

Preliminary archeological research excavation found intact human skeletal remains located 30 feet below the city’s street level on Broadway. During survey work, the largest and most important archeological discovery was made: unearthing the “Negroes Buriel Ground”- a 6-acre burial ground containing upwards of 15,000 intact skeletal remains of enslaved and free Africans who lived and worked in colonial New York. The burial ground’s rediscovery altered the understanding and scholarship surrounding enslavement and its contribution to constructing New York City. The Burial Ground dates from the middle 1630s to 1795. Currently, the burial ground is the nation’s earliest and largest African burial ground rediscovered in the United States. Memorialization and research of the enslaved African skeletal remains were negotiated extensively between the General Services Administration, the African American descendant community, historians, archeologists, and anthropologists, including city and state political leaders. 

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