The story of the African Burial Ground in New York City, which opened October, 2007 to the public, has fascinated many people since its re-discovery in 1991. Here, in 2005, schoolchildren watched a ceremony through a fence surrounding the burial ground.
A worker helps complete construction of a memorial opening to the public at the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan on Oct. 1, 2007 -- the culmination of two tales, one beginning 16 years ago, the other three centuries before that.
In 1991, workers excavating ground at 290 Broadway, a few blocks from City Hall, for a planned federal office building, discovered the remains of 419 people. Historians discovered that 15,000 free and enslaved New Yorkers of African descent from the 1690s until the 1790s were buried in a 6.6 acre burial ground in Lower Manhattan that included the site.
The discovery prompted artwork to be commissioned relevant to the burial ground. This mosaic by artist Roger Brown was done in 1994. The artist has called it a "mosaic of death heads in memory of those of all races who have suffered and died too soon." It is shocking to see that the buildings at the top are the twin towers of the World Trade Center, lending the work even more meaning after 9/11.
An annual Day of Prayer was held on the site starting in 2001; here, the Rev. Jesse Jackson leads a prayer in the third annual Day of Prayer in 2003. The remains were sent to Howard University in Washington, D.C., to be studied.
In 2003, elaborate ceremonies held in six cities accompanied the return of the remains for re-interment. Here, city officials stand behind four coffins after they arrived at Pier 11 on Wall Street, a colonial-era disembarkation point for slave ships in New York.
The remains were carried with great solemnity from the pier ...
A horse-drawn carriage carried some of the coffins ...
Pallbearers carried the remains that had been taken from the burial ground back to the same site, in hand-carved caskets from Ghana.
Already lowered caskets adorned with flowers are seen in the foreground as workers lowered more caskets during the reinterment ceremony.
A sign designates the honorary name of the street that runs past the African Burial Ground Memorial site. A little more than two years after the reinterment, in February, 2006, President George W. Bush designated the site a national monument.
Designer Rodney Leon discusses the new memorial at the African Burial Ground National Monument on Oct. 1, 2007, in New York City.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, is framed in the center of a wreath as he listens to poet Maya Angelou perform a poem during the dedication ceremony for the African Burial Ground National Monument in New York, Friday Oct. 5, 2007.
Howard Dodson, facing camera, chief of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, hugs Rodney Leon, designer of the African Burial Ground Monument, inside the monument on the day of the dedication ceremony in New York, Friday Oct. 5, 2007. "Now we have an opportunity to right some of the wrongs of the past, to try to heal some of those wounds," said Leon.