Saturday, February 2, 2008

African Burial Ground

from 10/05/07 from pseudo-intellectualism
What's great about is that a transcript is usually available that could be put to use as a read-along.

It's been hundreds of years in the making, and now finally a memorial marking an ancient African burial ground was dedicated with a special ceremony in Lower Manhattan this morning. The two-hour ceremony was filled with music, prayer and insight into what was a piece of lost history, and which has now been rediscovered.
The revered poet and writer Maya Angelou spoke at the ceremony.
"Today, it's African Americans [we are honoring], because the playing field has not been evened," said Angelou. "But it could have been Asian Americans; it could be a cemetery for Jewish Americans; or Muslim, Islamic Americans; it could be a Native American cemetery. It is imperative that each of us knows that we own this country because we've already been paid for." Organizers hope the dedication and the memorial will shed light, not just on African American history, but on American history in general, as well as the history of New York City. The trio known as Three Mo' Tenors performed as part of the consecration of the site, now considered hallowed ground.
The gravesite was discovered 16 years ago by workers excavating the foundation of the Federal Building on Broadway, and is believed to contain the remains of between 15,000 and 20,000 Africans buried in the 17th and 18th centuries. "Their contributions were never respected, but now, I'm so happy to say that that will never happened again," said memorial designer Rodney Leon. "No longer will someone be able to walk by this site and not be drawn in by the physical presence of the ancestors, the spiritual presence of the ancestors and the physical presence of the memorial." Workers have put the finishing touches on the 20-foot high memorial, located on Broadway at the corner of Duane and Reade Streets. Dr. James Forbes, who presided over the ceremony, called for those in attendance to ask for their ancestors' forgiveness.
A visitor’s center is in the works and is expected to open by the end of next year.
In 2005 the federal government commissioned a monument to be built there and last year President George W. Bush declared the site a national monument.
"We want to put a marker on it so that it would never be forgotten again," said Schomburg Center chief Howard Dodson. "Today we dedicate that marker, a national monument, a national African burial ground monument that's going to be here in perpetuity." The ceremony ended with a wreathe-laying. Soon after, the monument will open to the public. Later tonight there will be a torch arriving by boat from the Statue of Liberty to lead a candlelight procession.


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