Maya Angelou, Bloomberg, Nadler
Maya Angelou speaks at the Rites of Ancestral Return.

On November 4, 1993 all excavated human remains were transferred to the W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory of Howard University. A commemorative candlelight vigil, seminar, ancestral tribute and reception marked the departure from New York to Washington, D.C. In September, 2003 to October 4, 2003, the “Cradle Moving” event commenced marking the return of the ancestral remains from Washington, D.C. to the Burial Ground for reinternment. The Rites of Ancestral Return commemorative ceremony, which began with an Evening Departure Ceremony at Howard University, documented and celebrated the contribution of African Americans as the ancestral remains from the African Burial Ground were returned from Washington, D.C., to New York City. The remains were given a permanent resting-place at the African Burial Ground Memorial Site on October 4, 2003. Prior to final reinterment, each of the 419 human skeletal remains were carefully laid in their own hand-carved coffin. Celebration and ceremonies surrounded the return from Washington D.C. back to New York City in the Rites of Ancestral Return. Upon arrival at the burial ground in New York City, 60 coffins were stacked in a larger crypt, and the crypt was lowered respectfully into the ground. Seven crypts in total were lowered back into the ground, each one marked with re-burial mound. Today you may visit and pay respects to the re-interred ancestors at our exterior memorial. Flowers (no more than two flowers per person) may be left on the site, and only at the reinternment area within the outdoor grounds.The pouring of "libations" of any kind within the memorial grounds requires a permit in advance.

Reinterment coffin
Reinterment hand-carved coffin
Ancestral mounds
Ancestral Remains
Libation Ceremony
A libation ceremony



Last updated: December 15, 2018

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