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Press Releases

Monday, January 29, 2007

Dr. Michael Blakey Speaks on New York's African Burial Ground February 5

SALISBURY, MD---For centuries, the remains of some 419 17th and 18th century Africans were buried beneath the ground of New York City. When the site was discovered in 1991, it made headlines.

Dr. Michael Blakey, physical anthropologist, speaks on this burial ground 7:30 p.m. Monday, February 5, in the Wicomico Room of the Guerrieri University Center. His talk keynotes Salisbury University’s African-American History Month celebration.

The National Endowment for the Humanities Professor at William and Mary College, Blakey delivers the talk “New York’s African Burial Ground: From National Secret to National Monument.” He focuses on the historical context of these Africans, where they came from and the harsh conditions they faced in New York. The city held one of the colonies’ largest slave populations, second only to Charleston, S.C.

The largest bioarchaeological colonial population ever discovered in the Americas, the remains exhumed from the burial ground were involved in more than a decade of study, led by Blakey. Findings resulted in a better knowledge of what parts of Africa the slaves came from, as well as the period cultures of those areas. The remains were reburied during a Rites of Ancestral Return ceremony in 2003.

In addition to speaking about the burial ground nationwide, Blakey was a focus of the PBS special Slavery’s Buried Past, part of the Peabody Award-winning series The New Explorers. His papers have appeared in journals including American Anthropologist, American Journal of Physical Anthropology and International Journal of Anthropology.

Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Services, Blakey’s talk is free and the public is invited. For more information call 410-548-4503 or visit the SU Web site at

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