A Push to Recognize an Inwood Slave Burial Ground

A student holds an image of slave remains placed in a pile. (Photo by Gregg McQueen via Manhattan Times)

Community leaders in Upper Manhattan, including state Sen. Marisol Alcantara, urged the city to preserve a site historians believe served as a burial ground for African slaves in Inwood, reports Gregg McQueen in Manhattan Times. The parking lot for P.S. 98 Shorac Kappock is located on the land today. Alcantara said at an Aug. 1 press conference that she will seek to install a commemorative plaque.

Cole Thompson, a local historian, said that American Museum of Natural History workers had excavated the remains of 36 people from the site in 1903.

“They just started piling up the bones, putting them into soap boxes,” Thompson said. “The following day, the whole thing was just covered over and the bones were carted away and discarded.”

Some 20 years later, the city excavated the site of a colonial burial ground for white residents located about 100 yards away while in the process of building what is now the 207th Street subway yard.

However, Thompson said those remains were treated very differently from those of the slaves.

“They very carefully exhumed all the bodies, carted everything over to Woodlawn Cemetery, and built this nice granite memorial with all the family names on it,” he remarked.

For this reason, among others, officials like Alcantara and Deputy Manhattan Borough President Aldrin Bonilla are pushing for proper recognition of the burial ground.

Go to Manhattan Times to read how the local Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance – a resident of the farmhouse had owned slaves – aims to help in the effort and what Alcantara said the city needs to consider amid the Inwood rezoning plans.

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