In spite of the endless attempts to erase Black history from the American dialogue, there are some truths that won’t stay buried.
Underneath a bus depot in Upper Manhattan, hiding in plain sight, archeologists have discovered the remains of an African burial ground. For years, many historians have maintained that the site, which was once a Reformed Dutch churchyard, was home to the remains of New Yorkers of African descent. But without physical proof, it was simply a theory, and one that was not taken seriously by most Euro-centric accounts.
But, according to the New York Times, that all changed last year, when experts with the Harlem African Burial Ground Taskforce found 140 bones, bone fragments and other items at the site. Most notable among them was a skull with its cranium intact, which is believed to have been from an adult woman of African descent. The experts who found the skull named her “Nana,” which is a term used by many African cultures to show respect to an elderly woman.
The discovery was announced Wednesday by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Rev. Dr. Patricia A. Singletary, pastor of Harlem’s Elmendorf Reformed Church.
Now, as developers look to further gentrify Harlem through “residential redevelopment” of the depot, the discovery changes how they will have to approach the site. At the very least, it means that the site will have to include a memorial, honoring the bodies put to rest there. Moreover, it further proves that we played a huge role in the history of New York, and should be remembered as so.