Site of African Burial Ground Gets Recognition, and Money





Not far from the Greco-Roman courthouse in Downtown Manhattan made familiar by the television show ''Law and Order'' is the place once called the Negroes Burial Ground.

From about 1640 to 1795, historians say, perhaps 15,000 slaves were buried there in a forgotten wasteland. Many had died before the age of 12. Some had died within two years of arriving in chains.

The federal government announced plans last week for an $8 million memorial and visitor center on part of the site, now known as the African Burial Ground. They are scheduled to be completed this fall. The memorial was designed by Aarris Architects of Manhattan.

President Bush also proclaimed the space, about a third of an acre at Duane and Elk Streets, a national monument, like the Statue of Liberty. The overall site, the equivalent of nearly seven acres, is the oldest and largest African burial site in North America, according to the National Park Service.

''We preserve this sacred ground,'' Gale A. Norton, the secretary of the Interior Department, said at last week's ceremony overlooking the memorial site. She added, ''We will not allow steel and glass towers to cover holy ground.''

David N. Dinkins, who was mayor when the burial ground was uncovered, said, ''Our young folks coming along need to know our history.''



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