Tuesday, July 8, 2008

African Burial Ground in New York City

For those of you who do not know, an African Burial Ground was discovered in New York in 1991 during excavation work for a new Federal office building and workers discovered the skeletal remains of the first of more than 400 men, women and children.

These turned out to be the remains of formerly enslaved Africans who were buried in a 6.6 acre burial ground in lower Manhattan outside the boundaries of the settlement of New Amsterdam, which would later become New York.

Over the decades, the unmarked cemetery was covered over by development and landfill.

Since being uncovered, the site has now been declared a National Monument and has a distinctive memorial that commemorates the former slaves.

The artwork above is entitled, " UNEARTHED" and was done by artist, Frank Bender in 2002 in finished bronze with patina and is located at the Ted Weiss Federal Building, 290 Broadway, New York City. Frank Bender is a world renowned sculptor from Philadelphia, known for his work on forensic facial identifications, fugitive age progressions and fine art. His studio is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The subjects deplicted are recreations of the actual skeletal remains found in the Burial Grounds. Bender indicated that he held the eldest woman's scull in my hands and felt that she had endured the most. The younger woman with the bandana had been shot in the back. The young man in the background, the youngest and tallest of the three, is rising for the hope-filled future.

The sculpture is truly remarkable and a priceless memorial not only to these individuals but to the countless other former slaves long buried and forgotten whose voices now cry out to modern generations to remember their pain.

If you ever get a chance, please go visit this African Burial Ground in New York.

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