slaves, what slaves?

Not in our neighborhood, surely?

The opening in Battery Park City of a memorial to victims of the Irish famine of 1845-52, near the Living Memorial to the Holocaust, suggests that Americans are more comfortable remembering others' violations of human rights than our own.

The Irish famine and the Holocaust played important roles in New York's history. Thousands of immigrants fled to safety here. These events certainly deserve commemoration. Yet their impact pales in comparison with slavery's. In the colonial era, New York was a major center of slave labor. Slaves represented more than 10 percent of the population in 1750. In the first half of the 19th century, the city grew rich financing, insuring and shipping the cotton produced by Southern slaves.

When will we see, in this city and elsewhere in the country, memorials to the victims of slavery, our home-grown crime against humanity?

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Published on July 22, 2002 2:27 PM.

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