Breaking Ground, Breaking Silence: The Story of New York's African Burial Ground

by Joyce Hansen and Gary McGowan

In 1991, while excavating beneath the streets of lower Manhattan, archaeologists... read more

In 1991, while excavating beneath the streets of lower Manhattan, archaeologists unearthed the remains of a male of African descent. It turned out to be the start of a rich discovery of great historical, cultural and spiritual significance--the 18th century African burial ground used by Manhattan's earliest black residents to lay members of their community to rest. As the excavaction of this site unfolds in the pages of this moving and important volume, the authors trace the history of this community and examine the ways in which the discoveries in the burial ground can illuminate the lives of individuals, even when their names aren't known, giving voice to a lost past. Artifacts and burial practices become a means of connecting remains back to a specific African culture, or determining defiance in the continuation of burial practices forbidden by Dutch, and later English, governments of the region. The history of Africans and African Americans in the region and the social and political conditions under which they lived is traced chronologically as the narrative progresses, beginning with the first known arrivals early in the 17th century, who came as slaves of the Dutch, and continuing through the mid 1800s . Black-and-white photographs of burial remains and artifacts along with archival drawings illustrate this volume. An epilogue documents efforts to preserve and protect the burial ground and its remains and the overwhelming significance of this discovery to the African American community, and to us all. (Age 12 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998

show less