The Ark of Return

© UN Photo / Rick Bajornas

Permanent Memorial to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade at the United Nations

Designed by Rodney Leon, an American architect of Haitian descent, the Permanent memorial entitled The Ark of Return was unveiled on 25 March 2015 in New York.

The design was selected in 2013 from 310 design proposals from 83 countries, through an international competition organized in partnership with UNESCO’s Slave Route Project and the Permanent Memorial Committee.

The Ark of Return is a tribute to the courage of enslaved people, abolitionists and unsung heroes who helped end the oppression of slavery. It also promotes a greater recognition of the significant contributions that enslaved people and their descendants have made in their societies.

The Memorial contains three main elements, including:

  • FIRST ELEMENT: “Acknowledge of the tragedy” is a three dimensional map inscribed on the interior of the memorial. This map highlights the African continent at the centre of the slave trade and illustrates the global scale, complexity and impact of the triangular slave trade.
  • SECOND ELEMENT: “Consider the legacy” features a full-scale human replica carved out of black Zimbabwean granite. This element illustrates the extreme conditions under which millions of African people were transported during the middle passage. The sculpture represents the spirit of the men, women and children who lost their lives in the transatlantic slave trade.
  • THIRD ELEMENT: “Lest we forget” is a triangular reflecting pool where visitors can honour the memory of the millions of souls that were lost.

The Memorial can visited at:
United Nations Visitors Plaza
1st Avenue and 46th Street
New York, NY 10017

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