African Burial Ground to be Rededicated

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The African American Burial Monument in Lower Manhattan will mark its tenth anniversary with five days of events beginning on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

The rededication, which is free and open to the public, will take place at the site, which contains the remains of more than 419 Africans buried during the late 17th and 18th centuries in a portion of what was the largest colonial-era cemetery for people of African descent, some free, most enslaved.

It will feature talks, tours, film screenings, dance, drum and vocal performances, and a street fair.

Laurie Lambert, Ph.D., assistant professor of African and African-American Studies, said the monument is a powerful reminder to New Yorkers that slavery was not exclusively the province of Southern states. Key parts of the Big Apple, in fact, owe their existence to the labor of Africans and their descendants.

“Many people know that enslaved Africans helped build the structure of the White House. In New York, there are cases of that, but we also have to pay attention to where the financing came to actually produce certain businesses and certain buildings,” she said.

“Even if they weren’t involved in the physical building of something, what kind of economic benefit did their labor produce that helped to produce some of these things? Part of what we miss out on is how that legacy of enslaved labor works in terms of building our economy.”

Sandra Arnold, PCS ’13, founder of the Periwinkle Humanities Initiative and the National Burial Database of Enslaved Americans, said the site, which is the first and so far only burial ground of enslaved people to be made into national monument, is a testament to what can be done when disparate partners, from the City and citizens of New York to Howard University, work together.

“Many times when people think of slavery, they only think of the African American experience, but what I love about the story of the African Burial Ground in downtown Manhattan is, people from all walks of life, all nationalities, all backgrounds, were involved in saving it, and they were all involved in making sure it was recognized as a national monument,” she said.

Tuesday, Oct. 3
11 a.m. Opening ceremony and spiritual blessings
2 p.m. Fusha dance performance

Wednesday, Oct. 4
11 a.m. Film screening: African Burial Ground: An American Discovery Living Historians 

Thursday, Oct. 5
10:30 a.m. Memorial talk and tour, African drumming, cultural lectures
7 p.m. Panel discussion

Friday, Oct. 6
11 a.m. Fusha dance performance
12 p.m. Redhawk Native American Council dance
12 p.m. Memorial talk and tour
1 p.m. Eclectic Butterfly performance

Saturday, Oct. 7
10:30 am Family day street fair
11:30 a.m. Universal Dance and Drum ensemble performance
12 p.m. Uptown Dance Academy performance
1 p.m. Cumbe Dance/Drum Storytelling workshop
2 p.m. Spoken work by Verbal Artisan
2:45 p.m. Ernest Johnson vocal performance
3 p.m. Fusha dance performance

For more information, visit www.nps.gov/afbg

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