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There was a huge slave market on Wall Street, and a new marker will remind everyone

Harper's Magazine illustration of the New York City slave market in 1643
Harper's Magazine illustration of the New York City slave market in 1643
(Harper's/Wikipedia Commons)

It's one thing to understand generally that America was built on the backs of enslaved men and women from Africa. It's another thing altogether to see a historical marker clearly stating that fact, right on New York City's Wall Street.

That's coming soon.

WNYC reports that the public sign — the first of its kind in the city — will make it clear that 1700s New York had an official location for buying, selling, and renting human beings. It's been approved by the City Council and will be unveiled June 19.

The planned location is described as a "pocket park on the northeast corner of Wall and Water Streets," just a block from the historic location of the slave market that was on the corner of Wall and Pearl Streets from 1711 to 1762.

Thousands of men, women, and children were sold there, during a time when slaves helped build City Hall.

According to WNYC, which obtained a draft of the marker, it includes the phrase, "Slavery was introduced to Manhattan in 1626."

"It's not a feel-good story," Thomas J. Davis, a professor at Arizona State University who writes about slavery in the North, told WNYC. "It's not a story that people have wanted to hear." But, he said, "folks need to 'fess up and understand the long, black roots that New York has."

Read more and listen to the story at WNYC.

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