FROM THE BBC NEWS: Here is a news report from outside the American press of a Black American slave burial site located in the area of Wall Street, (lower Manhattan) New York City, New York:

“A burial ground for African slaves, which had been forgotten for almost two centuries, has been opened to the public in New York. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and poet Maya Angelou attended a dedication ceremony for a monument at the site.

The late 17th Century burial site was gradually built over as New York expanded, but was rediscovered during an excavation in 1991.

Some 400 remains, many of children, were found during excavations.

Half of the remains found at the burial site were of children under the age of 12.

The entire project has cost more than $50 million (£24 million) to complete.

The burial site in Manhattan was rediscovered during excavations for a federal building.

Forgotten sacrifice

Now a 25ft (7.6 metre) granite monument marks the site.

It was designed by Rodney Leon and is made out of stone from South Africa and from North America to symbolise the two worlds coming together.

The entry to the monument is called The Door of Return – a nod to the name given to the departure points from which slaves were shipped from Africa to North America.

“The tragedy was that for so many years, for centuries, people passing by this site did not know about the sacrifices they [the slaves] had made,” Mr Leon said.

“Now we have an opportunity to right some of the wrongs of the past.”

Enslaved Africans helped create the city of New York.

They worked in the docks and as labourers building the fortification known as Wall Street, which protected the city against attack from Native Americans.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the excavations had revealed “one of the most uncomfortable and tragic truths in our city’s history. For two centuries, slavery was widespread in New York.”

Published: 2007/10/06 01:17:33 GMT




By Jane Beresford
BBC producer of I Too Am America
APRIL 26, 2004

The remains of 20,000 Africans are said to be buried under New York

The remains of 20,000 African men, women and children have lain beneath the busy streets of New York for 300 years, waiting to tell their stories on the extent of slavery in the city.

In March 1992, leading African-America archaeologist Michael Blakey arrived at the burial ground in downtown Manhattan.

“I had read about these people documented as chattel, ” he said. “Now I was going to learn about these Africans in New York as human beings.”

A haunting sight greeted him. Being winter, work was taking place under a translucent plastic tent.

“I’d really never seen an excavation like that one,” he said. “There were mini excavators working and kerosene heaters going.”

“By the time I got there, about a dozen burials were in the process of being exposed. One could see very clearly the positions that were meant to put them at peace when they were buried.”

Many had their arms crossed. One female skeleton had tiny bones by her side, suggesting a woman cradling a new born child.

Sign of slavery

They had devastating secrets to share, information that would reveal the extent of slavery in New York.

“Quite early on, we found the skull and thorax of an individual with filed or ‘culturally modified’ teeth – and that stunned me because that is very rare,” Mr Blakey said.

There are only about nine skeletons in the whole of the Americas that have been discovered with filed teeth, he said.

Wall Street sign
African slaves helped create the city

“In the African burial ground we found at least 27 individuals with filed teeth.”

This suggested these people had come to New York directly from Africa before importation was banned in 1808 and American slaveholders started “breeding” slaves on the plantations in the South.

“These kinds of irreversible identifiers put people at risk who might want to escape,” Mr Blakey said.

Runaway adverts in newspapers seeking to re-capture the many escaped enslaved Africans often mentioned dental modification, he said – so no one would not choose to have that kind of marker.

‘Worked to death’

But these enslaved Africans helped create the city of New York. They worked as stevedores in the docks and as labourers building the fortification known as Wall Street, which protected the city against attack from Native Americans.

Evidence from the burial site revealed, for the first time, the enormous human cost of such work.

Half of the remains were of children under the age of 12. Women were usually dead by 40.

“It seems that it was cost effective for slave traders to work people to death and then simply to replace them, so they sought to get Africans who were as young as possible, but ready to work,” said Mr Blakey.

From royalty to slavery?

The woman designated “Burial 340” was a very intriguing person.

“She was in her 40s – and for the burial ground population that makes her kind of old”, said archaeologist Sherrill Wilson, now director of interpretation at the African Burial Ground.

“Around her waist the woman wore a belt of over 100 beads and cowrie shells,” she said.

“In some parts of Africa in the 1700s, it’s illegal for people who are not members of royal families to own even one of these beads – and she has over 100 buried with her,” she added.

Had this woman been born into royalty in Ghana and died a slave in New York City?

Such treasures are known to belong to Akan-speaking people. Had this woman been born into royalty in Ghana and died a slave in New York City?

And who chose to bury her with the waist belt of beads?

“These are very valuable items,” said Ms Wilson. “It implies that whoever buried her… could have chosen to sell those items to feed themselves – but they made the choice to bury them with her.”

Perhaps it was a tradition, a rite, or an act of defiance against those who had enslaved a woman of noble birth.

The skeletons of 18th Century slaves have spoken to those living free today to remind us that New York – one of the world’s great immigrant cities – destroyed as well as created destinies.

The Archive Hour: I Too Am America was broadcast on Saturday 24 April on BBC Radio 4 at 2000 BST.



In 1991, the remains of more than 400 17th and 18th century Africans were discovered during construction of the Foley Square federal building site in New York City. The finding deeply impacted the descendant and broader community and at the same time renewed awareness in cultural significance and historic preservation.  Since then, the U.S. General Services Administration has been driven to complete what has become known as the African Burial Ground Project, a major effort to memorialize the legacy of those buried at the site.
Artist: Roger BrownCommissioned: 1993
Installed: 1994
Glass mosaic: 14’High x 10’WideLocation: Foley Square Federal Building
290 Broadway
New York City


The North.

Yes, the North.

Another of America’s dirty little secrets that many people did not know about the North.

Slavery *yes, gasp* originated in the original 13 colonies.

You should see the looks of flabbergasted, dumb-flummoxed disbelief on people’s faces when I inform them that slavery started in the North. Only thing is, because of the economy and climate, the North could not sustain slavery the way the South did. The North did not let go of slavery out of any moral remorse, no.The North could not leech and parasite off unpaid black slave labor because north of the Mason-Dixon Line, cotton does not grow, neither does rice nor sugar.The North has done an excellent job of bamboozling the world into believing the lie that only the evil South kept black people in bondage.The North failed to develop large-scale agrarian slavery, such as later arose in the Deep South, but that had little to do with morality and much to do with climate and economy.North and South.They both had a hand in the degradation and brutal mistreatment of America’s black citizens.

The North was no bastion of tolerance.

Some facts about New York’s dual role:

New York’s rise to national and global economic power and its relationship to the nation’s confrontation with issues of slavery and racial inequality against the backdrop of the Civil War, was mostly tied to the rise of Cotton as King.

 Far more than any other Northern city, New York was tied to the economy of the south, and especially to cotton. New York did not grow cotton, or process it, or make it into goods, but the city inserted itself into the business of cotton, by far the world’s most important commodity in the nineteenth century. New York banks financed Southern cotton merchants. New York insurers protected them from loss. New York ships carried their goods. New York was on the route of many cotton shipments to Europe, if only to take the cargo off one ship and load it on another. Even shipments that bypassed New York were linked to the city’s merchants and bankers. Shortly before the Civil War, one Southern editor gloated that New York would be nothing without slavery and the cotton trade. “The ships would rot at her docks; grass would grow in Wall Street and Broadway, and the glory of New York, like that of Babylon and Rome, would be numbered with the things of the past.”While the North did not grow rich itself from the slave labor wealth that the South’s cotton created, cotton did bring something critical to the city: a pro-Southern, pro-slavery attitude that seeped into its cultural, political, and social life. At the same time, it was the cradle of the abolition movement, with black and white abolitionists pushing for the end of slavery in America. The Civil War brought that conflict to a head within New York, where tensions between Democrat and Republican, black and white, rich and poor, immigrant and native were already high.Picked by slave labor, Southern cotton eventually made up 60 percent of the nation’s exports and provided seven-eighths of the world’s supply. Much of it passed through New York. In 1822 half of New York’s exports consisted of cotton shipments, and New York trade accounted for 38 cents of every dollar earned on cotton.The momentum of emancipation was interrupted by the emergence of the cotton revolution, fueled by British industrialization and the expansion of the Cotton Belt. At the same time, a powerful abolitionist movement gained force with New York as its major center. The outbreak of the Civil War helped to bring together support in the city for the Union, but also led to the horrors of the Draft Riots.The commercial lure of the South must have still been phenomenal. New York hotels at the time, offered Southern-style hospitality to Southern guests, as New York virtually became an annex of the South. What accompanied all this, adding fire to racial disparity and enmity, was the phenomenon of racial caricaturing in popular culture: in P. T. Barnum exhibits, minstrel shows and dance clubs. The impact that had a connection on popular culture and daily life. Since New York was so pro-slavery, visiting Southern plantation owners found warm welcome in hotels and vacation spots. Newspaper editorials praised slavery and criticized slaves. Another part of the racist propaganda focused on the rise of minstrel shows and other stereotypical images of blacks, all of which were intended by whites to further demean blacks.

One free black man of this time, a most remarkable black New Yorker of the 19th century, was James McCune Smith, who eloquently spoke of the racist hate that was propagated against free blacks via the denigration of blackface minstrelsy. Mr. Smith, who was educated in Glasgow, was the first black doctor and the first black political candidate in New York State, a graceful polemicist and a lyrical writer who wrote:



“What stone has been left unturned to degrade us? What hand has refused to fan the flame of popular prejudice against us? What American artist has not caricatured us? What wit has not laughed at us in our wretchedness?” he writes. “Few, few, very few.”

In essence, it was the war between North and South, between slavery and freedom, between New York and … itself.

* Cotton was by far the dominant commodity of the nineteenth century, composing nearly 66 percent of American exports by the time of the Civil War; its equivalent is found in the role of oil in today’s global economy. New York shippers, traders and insurers claimed 38 cents of every dollar earned in the production of cotton.

* New York was sometimes considered the “Capital of the South” because of its commercial and political ties to Southern states. * Lincoln never received more than 35 percent of the vote in New York City, and the city regularly delivered its votes for pro-slavery candidates.

* In 1861, New York City’s Mayor called for New York City’s declaration of independence from both the North and the South, aiming to preserve its role as the great port for both sections.

* The New York City Draft Riots, spread over 5 days in July 1863, were the worst civil disorders in American history, costing between 120 and 150 lives. Irish gangs roved through predominantly black free and ex-slave neighborhoods, raping, burning and murdering innocent black people. It was the creation of draft wheel, used to conscript whites into the Union army, mainly the Irish, that led to this massive slaughter of innocent, defenseless free blacks. It was anger over the drafting of New York City white men into a war that many didn’t support that touched off the 1863 Draft Riots, a week of violent unrest that saw deaths (mostly black people), injuries and massive property damage.

* New York was a center of abolitionist activity among both blacks and whites, and dominated the publishing and distributing of tracts and images of slavery that brought its cruelty to northern audiences

* New York abolitionists’ political and public campaign for equality in the North and against slavery in the South are the foundation for today’s human rights movement.

* More than 46,534 New Yorkers died in the Civil War–more than any other state in the conflict.


And neither was the West free either of its hateful mistreatment of black people, with its Black Laws of the Old West, and the many Sundown Towns that were built all across America that drove black people from pillar to post under racial covenants, racial pogroms and ethnic cleansing that no other race, save Native Americans, have ever suffered under.

On February 27, 2006, President George W. Bush signed a proclamation designating the burial site as the 123rd National Monument. It was transferred to the operating jurisdiction of the National Park Service as its 390th unit.

For those who still need more information that slavery originated in the original 13 colonies, please go to the following link:



Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank (Paperback – Aug 15, 2006)
4.8 out of 5 stars (24)



A Burial Ground and Its Dead Are Given Life“, by Edward Rothstein. (post Updated December 18, 2016)

The African Burial Ground Visitor Center in Lower Manhattan includes life-size mourning figures. Credit Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times


Modern history was made at our 2013 reinterment ceremonyOur history is modern and ancient.  One piece of modern history at our site was the 2003 reinterment ceremonies shown here.

 Photographs from the excavation of the 18th-century burial ground are among the displays in the new visitor center. Credit Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times



For more on the burial site, visit here at the  African Burial Ground National Monument.


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  1. Finally, Northern slavery is coming to light! The slaveowners were just as viscious as the southern ones but that history was covered up in the 19th and 20th century northern historians who are anxious to put themselves in the best light yet are racists to the core. They too don’t want to acknowledge slavery in their back yards.

    I’m glad this memorial is opened to the public so as to educate the public on the horrific toll slavery had on Blacks as well as to memorialize the victims of slavery. These ones are to be remembered and not forgotten.


  2. I am looking to find the exact location of this memorial. Anyone know?

    MODERATOR: Diva-Rachel, click on the link at the bottom of my post. There it will take you to the official website of the monument/memorial.




  6. Sharlene

    Really appreciate your sharing this blog post. Thank you.

  7. Pingback: Freedom

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