What was created to shed light on the economic impact African Americans hold on society, was met yesterday in anguish, as black, white, Hispanic, Muslim, Jews and Christians stood together at the African Burial Ground Monument in lower Manhattan to denounce acts of hate.
The monument, outside 250 Broadway, was desecrated recently with hateful graffiti reading ““kill n*****s,” and although it has since been washed clean, those assembled faced not only the defamation of African history but the very culture of New York. Moisture consumed the air and the grounds. Rain threatened to fall at any moment, Still this did not deter folks from assembling against the hateful act, which came perhaps ironically as the first Monday in November signifies the 1969 induction of Black Solidarity Day.
“Our City has never been immune to the disease of racism, and impressionable minds will always be susceptible to its rot,” said City Council Member I. Daneek Miller (D-Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens) co-chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus. “So long as we fail to keep watch for the change in the air and condemn prejudice, the thickening poison cloud of bigotry enveloping our City will choke us all. This desecration of the hallowed African Burial Ground – a symbol of the greatest stain on our nation’s legacy – slavery – is painful to any person of conscience, but particularly wounds descendants of the Diaspora. Despite our injury, we will not be intimidated by this depraved act, and demand justice.”
African Burial Ground architect Rodney Leon noted the burial ground is near the courthouses and reflected back to the initial building of the monument, which signifies the lost culture of many African Americans both enslaved and free, who for so long laid buried beneath the feet of the very judicial system “we as New Yorkers seem to be at odds with today.”
“The African Burial Ground National Monument serves to educate current and future generations about the extreme sacrifices and profound contributions made by enslaved African descendant communities to the building of our great city and country,” said Leon. “We are at a critical time in our history. It is contingent upon all of us to reinforce, maintain, expand upon and protect the legacy of the AfricanBurial Ground for future generations in the face of current and future challenges.”
“I am deeply troubled by the rise in acts of hate that we’ve seen across America,” said City Council Member Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, South Ozone Park). “There is no justification for racial or religious hatred and as Americans we must stand together and denounce this abhorrent behavior. These cowardly attitudes will never defeat our spirit and our resilience will make our country stronger than it ever has been before.”
City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Downtown Flushing, Murray Hill, Queensboro Hill) noted that just last month he joined the mayor to celebrate how far the country and city has come as a society that upholds civil rights when they announced a new memorial for an African American and Native American burial ground in Flushing.
“Today, I am extremely saddened that we must be reminded of just how far we still have to go. We may never be able to completely stamp out the ugliness of racism and intolerance, but we will always stand up to it, we will always overwhelm it, and we will always overcome,” said Koo.
City Council Member Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Lefrak City, LaGuardia Airport) said the message scrawled on the African Burial Ground Monument is one more in a rash of hate crimes that ought to repulse anyone with a conscience.
“There is no world where this violent and bigoted vandalism should be tolerated or accepted, but when we have a president calling African nations ‘shithole countries’ with no significant repercussions, it’s also something that is tragically predictable. Racist rhetoric has racist consequences, and it must be stamped out. I condemn this pathetic act in the strongest terms,” said Moya.