They discovered a slave cemetery there
May their souls rest easy now that lynching is frowned upon
And we've moved onto the electric chair
The hole is dug. The crypts are ready to be filled. More than 400 hand-carved mahogany coffins, containing the skeletal remains of free and enslaved African-Americans, are sitting in a temperature-controlled room in Lower Manhattan.
After three centuries and 12 years, they are ready to be laid to rest for a second time.
On Saturday, in a moment that promises to be joyous and bitter all at once, the 18th-century remains will be ceremonially lowered into the ground and covered, in the same place where they were discovered a dozen years ago as the federal government prepared to build an office tower. The reinterment will follow a day and a half of observances, including a procession up the Canyon of Heroes in Lower Manhattan. It will also bring a symbolic close to an especially tumultuous chapter in the city's racial history.
The joy, those close to the project agree, will come from seeing the belated celebration of lives and history once forgotten. The bitterness, they say, stemmed from the fact they had to be reburied at all.
[. . .] Scientists numbered the remains as they uncovered them. Burial No. 25 was a woman with a musket ball in her rib cage. No. 340 was a woman in her late 40's wearing a girdle of glass beads, possibly from Africa.
The events that begin tomorrow in New York actually culminate six days of festivities that began earlier in the week in Washington. Four sets of remains, those of a man, a woman, a boy and a girl, were sent this week on a tour through Washington, Baltimore, Wilmington, Del., Philadelphia, Newark, and finally New York.
Tomorrow morning, the four coffins will arrive at South and Wall Streets, the site of Colonial New York's slave market. They will then join roughly a third of the remains on caissons and proceed up Broadway to the burial ground. The four coffins will be taken in a hearse to ceremonies in each of the five boroughs, before returning to be reburied on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. A permanent memorial, as well as an educational center, is planned for the site.
Do I want to know how Burial No. 25 ended up getting shot?
Do I want to consider the fact that these people are denied even their names, and assigned fucking numbers instead?
Should I be happy that the article casually mentions that Wall Street was "the site of Colonial New York's slave market?"
Am I headed for the same brick wall?
is there anything I can do
about anything at all
Except go back to that corner in Manhattan
and dig deeper
dig deeper this time?