NEW YORK—President George W. Bush has declared part of the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan, where an estimated 20,000 slaves and free Blacks were buried in the 18th century, a national monument.
The monument will allow visitors to "better understand and honor the culture and vital contributions of generations of Africans and Americans of African descent to our Nation," Bush said in a proclamation signed Monday.
A memorial is planned for the designated land, which covers less than half an acre within a National Historic Landmark.
The burial ground north of City Hall was closed in 1794 and was eventually forgotten as construction landfill buried it 20 feet deep. It was rediscovered in 1991 during construction of a federal office tower, and community pressure and protests led the government to abandon work on the building.
More than 400 sets of remains were found, half of them belonging to children. Many of them showed signs of malnourishment, severe arthritis and injuries caused by intense physical labor.
The National Historic Landmark, covering about seven acres, was designated in 1993 and has been jointly managed by the Park Service and the General Services Administration.
— The Associated Press