African Burial Ground: Preserving America’s History

As our national monuments come under attack by Trump, park conservationist Audrey Peterman reminds us that protecting our monuments is also about protecting the legacy of America’s people.

The following is a transcript of the video.

Audrey Peterman, president and cofounder, Earthwise Productions: One of my favorite national monuments in the system is the African Burial Ground National Monument, just off Wall Street in Manhattan. It was designated in 2006 by President George W. Bush.

This monument protects the legacy of people who were forgotten, literally discarded, rudely thrown into shallow graves. It commemorates these Africans who built New York City, and who would have known this had they not excavated their graves when they were trying to build a parking lot in that place?

Now, instead of a parking lot, we have a monument that is so beautiful, and it's beautifully decorated with African symbols, and you can go in there and learn the history of these people and actually walk in a grove where some of the remains are interred. It's a very spiritual experience.

It's so amazing! It gives me the chills to even now think about walking in that place. It's a whole different thing to be able to walk into a monument at the place where the thing happened instead of, you know, seeing it in a museum.

This is the true value of the American monument system. It allows us to put significant places and artifacts in protection for perpetuity at the place where their significant effort took place. You know, you can't overstate the value of that.

The current administration is undertaking an effort to review national monuments that were created since 1996. To me, that is fairly odious, shall we say, because it takes a really long process before you can get something established and designated as a national monument. It is not something that you just go out and do!

Presidents add monuments, they don't subtract them!

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