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VOA常速英语2007-African Burial Ground Memorial Opens in New York

时间:2007-10-20 02:35来源:互联网 提供网友:许安   字体: [ ]
By Mona Ghuneim
New York
09 October 2007

Sixteen years after the rediscovery of an African burial ground in Lower Manhattan, New York City and federal officials dedicated1 a memorial on the site, and paid tribute to the thousands of nameless men, women and children buried there. From VOA's New York Bureau, Mona Ghuneim has the story.

No one heard anything as Manhattan expanded and more and more construction over the 17th century burial ground hid any last traces of its history. The story of an estimated 15,000 Africans, both freed and enslaved men, women and children, was soon forgotten. Buried some seven and a half meters below street level, the bodies were discovered in 1991 when workers were digging the foundation for a new federal building on the site.

The 28,000 square meter site's rediscovery resulted in a major archaeological study to learn more about the city's early African and African-American history.

Lurita Doan is head of the US General Services Administration (GSA), a federal agency that manages government buildings and sites. At a memorial dedication2 in New York recently, the first African-American female head of GSA said these men, women and children have "returned from the past" to teach us something.

"We learned about the hardships that they faced, how they lived, and how they died, about their native countries, about the contributions they made, and mainly, about the traditions that they brought to this great country," she said.

Doan reminded the audience of federal employees, city and government officials, media, and invited guests that President Bush last year declared the site a national monument. She said this is the first national memorial in the United States to address slavery or the early African-American experience.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that when excavators discovered the bodies in 1991, they uncovered more than just a burial ground.

"They brought to light one of the most uncomfortable and tragic3 truths in our city's history: that for two centuries, slavery was widespread in New York City," he said.

According to historians, in the 17th and 18th centuries, Africans and African Americans living in New York City were not allowed to bury their dead within city limits. So they used this unclaimed land outside of the city to bury and pay tribute to their dead. When the site was rediscovered, excavators unearthed4 artifacts and precious belongings5, like necklaces and rings, alongside the bodies. The burial ground was closed at the turn of the nineteenth century and New York City's vast development took over.

Poet and African-American advocate Maya Angelou spoke6 at the ceremony. She said America was built with immigrant hands and that we must honor all the men and women who have gone before us.

"Today it's African-Americans because the playing field has not been even," she said. "But it could have been Asian Americans. It could be a cemetery7 for Jewish Americans or a Muslim/Islamic Americans' [cemetery]. It could be a Native American cemetery. It is imperative8 that each of us knows that we own this country, because we have already been paid for."

Angelou read a poem about the slave trade in the United States and told the audience that we must never again forget the physical and symbolic9 presence of the African Burial Ground.

To make certain the burial ground is not forgotten, a physical monument has been erected10 on the site where some four hundred bodies were removed in 1991 and studied, before they were reburied in 2003.

Designer of the monument, Rodney Leon said the memorial, made of stone from Africa and the United States, should be a place for reflection. He said he wants his fellow Americans to think about the sacrifices of those who passed and for so long were never acknowledged.

"No longer will someone be able to walk by this site and not be drawn11 in by the physical presence of the ancestors, the spiritual presence of the ancestors and the physical presence of the memorial," he said.

The memorial officially opened to the public after the dedication ceremony last week. Some say it was a long time coming with various issues delaying the project originally, including the lead excavator at one point accusing the government of not providing enough time and funds. But now the memorial stands, reminding us not to forget another shameful12 chapter in history.


1 dedicated duHzy2     
  • He dedicated his life to the cause of education.他献身于教育事业。
  • His whole energies are dedicated to improve the design.他的全部精力都放在改进这项设计上了。
2 dedication pxMx9     
  • We admire her courage,compassion and dedication.我们钦佩她的勇气、爱心和奉献精神。
  • Her dedication to her work was admirable.她对工作的奉献精神可钦可佩。
3 tragic inaw2     
  • The effect of the pollution on the beaches is absolutely tragic.污染海滩后果可悲。
  • Charles was a man doomed to tragic issues.查理是个注定不得善终的人。
4 unearthed e4d49b43cc52eefcadbac6d2e94bb832     
  • Many unearthed cultural relics are set forth in the exhibition hall. 展览馆里陈列着许多出土文物。
  • Some utensils were in a state of decay when they were unearthed. 有些器皿在出土时已经残破。
5 belongings oy6zMv     
  • I put a few personal belongings in a bag.我把几件私人物品装进包中。
  • Your personal belongings are not dutiable.个人物品不用纳税。
6 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
7 cemetery ur9z7     
  • He was buried in the cemetery.他被葬在公墓。
  • His remains were interred in the cemetery.他的遗体葬在墓地。
8 imperative BcdzC     
  • He always speaks in an imperative tone of voice.他老是用命令的口吻讲话。
  • The events of the past few days make it imperative for her to act.过去这几天发生的事迫使她不得不立即行动。
9 symbolic ErgwS     
  • It is symbolic of the fighting spirit of modern womanhood.它象征着现代妇女的战斗精神。
  • The Christian ceremony of baptism is a symbolic act.基督教的洗礼仪式是一种象征性的做法。
adj. 直立的,竖立的,笔直的 vt. 使 ... 直立,建立
  • A monument to him was erected in St Paul's Cathedral. 在圣保罗大教堂为他修了一座纪念碑。
  • A monument was erected to the memory of that great scientist. 树立了一块纪念碑纪念那位伟大的科学家。
11 drawn MuXzIi     
  • All the characters in the story are drawn from life.故事中的所有人物都取材于生活。
  • Her gaze was drawn irresistibly to the scene outside.她的目光禁不住被外面的风景所吸引。
12 shameful DzzwR     
  • It is very shameful of him to show off.他向人炫耀自己,真不害臊。
  • We must expose this shameful activity to the newspapers.我们一定要向报社揭露这一无耻行径。
TAG标签:   voa  常速英语  african  burial  voa  常速英语  african  burial
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