New York is home to dozens of national parks. It is naturally assumed that parks are only meant for recreational purposes; a few trees here and there constitute an environment of relaxation. Yet, parks can also be a way to highlight historical events and offer a sense of belonging. The African Burial Ground in colonial New York is one such example.
This park is considered one of the most important archeological finds of the 20th century. It is estimated to date as far back as the 17th and 18th century and marks a forgotten period in New York City history. Four hundred and nineteen sets of human remains were discovered between 1991 and 1992 during the construction of a federal building in Lower Manhattan. Immediately, construction was halted and the remains were sent to the Howard University for identification and research. Those who found the bones were amazed by how many sets of human remains there were. After the examination, it was determined that these skeletons belonged to Africans. The remains were re-interred in 2003 and the land renamed as the African Burial Ground.
The more than 6-acre land now features an outdoor memorial designed by Rodney Leon as a tribute to all generations of Africans and those with African descent. Buildings and memorials are designed to remind visitors of the history, culture, and community beliefs of Africans. It is hoped that the park will raise awareness of the struggles of the African people and encourage equality among races and descents.
Keith W. Springer lives in New York and loves to visit different types of national parks. His most recent visit was at the African Burial Ground where he felt a deep pull and compassion towards all those who have suffered. Learn more about his visits to other national parks by liking this Facebook page.