Nadler Introduces Legislation to Establish Memorial at the African Burial Ground

Jul 28, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jerrold Nadler yesterday introduced a bill to establish the African Burial Ground National Historic Site and the African Burial Ground International Memorial Museum in Manhattan.  Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) and Congressman Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) joined the Congressman Nadler in introducing H.R.3581.

“This museum and memorial will bring together history, science, and culture in an unprecedented nexus,” Congressman Nadler said. “There are thousands of people buried at the site – both slave and free – and each played a special part in the turbulent formation of this country. The more we can learn of their individual stories, and the more we recognize their contributions, the more fully we can appreciate the diversity and complexity that define America.”

The Lower Manhattan site is already a National Historic Landmark and is the final resting place for an estimated 20,000 enslaved and free African Americans.  High-quality DNA samples preserved at the burial site offer scientists a unique glimpse into the past.  The National Park Service will manage the museum and memorial.

“This cultural center will be a complement to the other memorials and attractions in New York that symbolize the quest for freedom in America,” Nadler said. “I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this legislation.”

The African Burial Ground International Memorial Museum Act will:

  • Establish a memorial museum and visitors center.
  • Serve as a permanent living memorial to the slaves buried at the site, and to all African American slaves.
  • Examine the African cultural traditions brought to the U.S. by slaves.
  • Explore in-depth the institution of slavery in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate. Congressman Nadler and Senator Clinton plan to push for passage of the bill in the fall.