Homecoming: The Return of the Ancestors

May 24, 2005 - October 8, 2005

Business Library (branch info)

Homecoming: The Return of the Ancestors

by Skip Burroughs and Daniel Gonzalez

In 1991 in lower Manhattan just north of City Hall, a building excavation uncovered what has been deemed one of the most important archeological finds of the 20th century: the African Burial Ground. Colonial Africans were forbidden burials in consecrated graveyards. Their burials, an estimated 20,000, were relegated to a 5 1/2 acre swamp, which is now Foley Square. With this discovery, history has an opportunity to rewrite a more inclusive account. 6.5 million settled the colonies. Only 1 million were Europeans. The silencing of more than 5.5 million enslaved, unpaid, builders of the colonies has been broken.

Skip Burroughs and Daniel Gonzalez photographed The Rites of Ancestral Return, a commemoration of a silent chapter of African-American colonial heritage. The return originated at Howard University where the bones of a man, a woman, a boy and a girl that had undergone a decade of forensic research, were retrieved and began their journey of return home to New York City for reinterment. The bodies traveled through five Underground Railroad cities and finally back to the site of South Street Seaport's colonial slave market. There were two days of ceremonies, with speeches, singing, drumming, a candlelight vigil, and finally, on October 4, 2003, the reinterment of the 419 excavated remains at the future African Burial Ground Memorial site on Duane Street. In 1993 the African Burial Ground was designated a National Historical Landmark.

A native New Yorker, Skip Burroughs's photography has appeared in numerous solo, duo and group exhibitions. She was a first prize winner of the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit and holds an M.A. in Anthropology.

URL: www.atlanticgallery.org


Daniel Gonzalez is a professional fine arts photographer. He has two published books and contributes to magazine publications regularly. His photographs are on permanent exhibition at Jack Lenore Larson's LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, NY.