Defacement of African Burial Ground Brings City Together

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NYC Council Member Jumaane Williams, Assembly Member Latrice Walker, Majority Leader, Laurie Cumbo. Photo: Mark Stewart

The African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan was desecrated by a racial slur last Thursday (Nov. 1st). At a packed press conference held on November 5th, political and religious leaders came together to speak out against the racist act, as well as the hate-filled atmosphere the country finds itself in.

The recognition is that this was only one in a series of racist and hate-motivated acts of terror in the past ten days. And there was the killing of two people in Kentucky, the pipe bombs around the country, the murderous attack at the Tree of Life synagogue and racist, anti-Semitic slurs on a synagogue in Brooklyn.

Council Member Jumaane Williams said, “We have to push back against the hatefulness and bigotry.”  Both he and Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo attributed the hateful atmosphere to the rhetoric coming from Washington.

NYS Assembly Member Latrice Walker asked what is meant by, “Make America Great Again?”

“As a community, do they want to take us back to slavery?” she asked. “Do they want to take us back to a point where there were Japanese interments? How far exactly is it that you want to take us back

Emphasis was made of the sacred nature of the African Burial Ground and its importance to the African-American community and the nation. The examination of the remains found there informs current generations of the brutality and suffering endured by Africans held as slaves to build the city and the nation.

Remembered also by Reverend Herbert Daughtry: “In memory of those who stood here and made this case possible. I need to mention Sonny Carson, I need to mention John Henrik Clarke, Emily Dixon un(intelligible), I need to mention Jitu Weusi, I need to mention Job Mashariki,” as the names of those who stopped the excavation that uncovered the graves during the construction of a parking garage and made sure the African Burial Ground was saved.

Monument architect Rodney Leon said that the African Burial Ground extended from Broadway to Foley Square and where they were standing represented only a part of the grounds

There was much notice taken of the many surveillance cameras surrounding the Federal Building across the street and hope was expressed that the perpetrator’s image was captured and that he will be apprehended.