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- Special Projects -
New York African Burial Ground Project

The African Burial Ground (ABG) in New York City, the nation’s largest national monument dedicated to African people, has been called “the single-most important, historic urban archaeological project undertaken in the United States." Over 20,000 Africans were buried across the five-acre burial ground during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Four hundred and nineteen uearthed remains were sent to Howard University’s Montague Cobb Biological Anthropology Laboratory, which coordinated a historical, anthropological and biological examination of each body and the world they toiled and died in. The Howard group used this study tour to commemorate the University’s role in the ABG research and to mark the fifth anniversary of the October 2003 re-internment of the remains at the site, a “Rites of Ancestral Return” which began at Howard’s Andrew Rankin Chapel on September 30 and culminated at the Burial Ground on October 3-4, 2003.

Student Tours

On Saturday, November 15, 150 Howard University students, staff and faculty toured the New York African Burial Ground (ABG) and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The ABG, the nation's largest national monument dedicated to African people, has been called "the single-most important, historic urban archaeological project undertaken in the United States." Over 20,000 Africans were buried across the five-acre burial ground during the 17th and 18th centuries, and 419 unearthed remains were sent to Howard University’s Montague Cobb Biological Anthropology Laboratory, which coordinated a historical, anthropological and biological examination of each body and the world they toiled and died in.

The 2008 Howard group used this study tour to commemorate the University’s role in the ABG research and to mark the fifth anniversary of the October 2003 re-interment of the remains at the site, a "Rites of Ancestral Return" which began at Howard’s Andrew Rankin Chapel on September 30 and culminated at the Burial Ground on October 3-4, 2003. The landmark Howard-led research project, including the "African Burial Ground Final History Report," can be reviewed at http://www.nps.gov/afbg/parkmgmt/index.htm.

The 2008 Howard group also journeyed to historic Harlem to visit to the Arthur Arturo Schomburg Center, the world’s largest repository of research materials on people of African Descent. The tour culminated with an intensive examination of “Aaron Douglass: African-American Modernist,” the first nationally touring retrospective on Douglass, who is considered the foremost visual artist of the Harlem Renaissance. Students discussed the artistic techniques, historical references, uses of media and related subjects of the exhibition’s pieces, which featured the four Douglass murals in the Schomburg’s permanent collection as well as major pieces from Fisk University and many pieces from private collections. After dining at the world-famous Sylvia’s Restaurant on Malcolm X (Lenox) Avenue, the group returned to Howard. Another Howard University student group visited in October, 2010.

These tours were made possible by Dean James Donaldson and the College of Arts and Sciences, with the vision and leadership of Associate Dean Barbara Griffin and the administrative direction of Ms. Teresa Bush, who coordinated and supervised the trip.

Thanks to Mr. Tyrone Barksdale, Office of the Provost, who led the tour through New York; Dr. Greg Carr, Department of Afro-American Studies, who guided the tours of the ABG and Schomburg Center; Ms. Alma Kemp and Ms. Paulette Powell from the COAS Deans Office who accompanied the tour and facilitated logistics; and the students from the College’s Freshman Seminar, Comparative Slavery and Introduction to Afro American Studies classes, as well as members of the Anthropology Club of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology’s Anthropology.

The university’s gratitude also extends to the Park Rangers and Tour Guides from the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service and the staff of the Schomburg Center.

Research Reports and more

The landmark Howard-led research project, including the “African Burial Ground Final History Report,” can be reviewed at http://www.africanburialground.gov.

Printed versions of the publications in the series, The New York African Burial Ground: Unearthing the African Presence in Colonial New York, published by the Howard University Press in association with the U.S. General Services Administration,  are available for review at the following locations:

  • The African Burial Ground National Monument, 290 Broadway, New York, NY 10007
  • Founders Library, Howard University, Washington, DC 20059
  • Moorland Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, Washington, DC 20059

More information about the memorial can be found at http://www.nps.gov/afbg/index.htm.

 
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