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Charles Martin | New York, United States

The African Burial Ground, marked by an outdoor National Historic Landmark memorial, stands near Broadway in downtown Manhattan. The architecture is a beautiful contrast to the origin of the site, where from the middle 1630s to 1795, African Americans, denied the right to lay in rest in various otherwise public and church cemeteries, were buried. Except for Charles Town, South Carolina, New York’s enslaved were the most numerous of the Thirteen Colonies during the late 1700s. The burial ground was built over as the city expanded but re-emerged from obscurity when, in 1991, construction was started for a federal office building at 290 Broadway. To comply with federal regulations, archeological digs were carried out and, about 30 feet underground, skeletal remains were discovered – part of what, in its time, had been known as the “Negroes Buriel Ground,” an area of about six acres which were, back then, on the outskirts of town.

Today, along with the memorial, there are a research center and library.  From soil of troubled times, things of beauty on occasion grow and become monumental reminders to investigate and improve.

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