Haitian American Designed UN Memorial To Slavery To Be Unveiled

The Ark of Return,
The Ark of Return,
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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Mar. 24, 2015: The eighth International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade – tomorrow, Wednesday, March 25, 2015 –  is set to be even more special this year.

The United Nations will proudly unveil The Ark of Return, the permanent memorial, designed by Haitian American architect Rodney Leon at the Visitors Plaza at UN Headquarters in New York City at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

The memorial recognizes the millions of African people who endured the extreme conditions on slave ships during the Middle Passage and the subsequent horrors of enslavement upon their arrival to the “New World.”

Built on the Visitors Plaza at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, The Ark of Return is aimed to help acknowledge the tragedy, consider the legacy of slavery, and never forget the millions of people affected by slavery.

It is designed in three parts so visitors can walk through and initiate a psychological, emotional and spiritual transformation.

Haitian American architect Rodney Leon
Haitian American architect Rodney Leon, l.

Leon is the founder and principal of Rodney Leon Architects PLLC and has an architectural background as designer on diverse projects including memorials, private homes, churches and cultural institutions in the U.S. and abroad. His academic interests have concentrated on Diaspora cultures and their impact on contemporary architecture and urban environments.

In 2005, he was awarded the prestigious commission for design and construction of the African Burial Ground Memorial in New York City, which is the only national monument in the United States dedicated to the contributions of people of African descent.

Leon’s current projects include the proposed design of a new 12,000 square foot Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts (MOCADA) in Brooklyn, NY.

Leon received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute School of Architecture and his Master of Architecture degree from Yale University.

He resides in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters.

This year, the theme of the International Day of Remembrance is “Women and Slavery and pays tribute to the many enslaved women who endured unbearable hardships, including sexual exploitation, as well as those who fought for freedom from slavery and advocated for its abolition.

More than 15 million men, women, and children were victims of the triangular slave trade, the largest forced migration in history.

It is estimated that one third of the approximately 15 million people who were deported from Africa through the Transatlantic Slave Trade were women. Enslaved women carried a triple burden. In addition to enduring the harsh conditions of forced labor as a slave, they experienced extreme forms of discrimination and exploitation as a result of their gender and the color of their skin.