SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The city hopes to unveil a new art installation in Golden Gate Park in time for June 19, honoring the first Africans in America.
Bay Area sculptor Dana King’s installation, titled Monumental Reckoning, honors the first Africans stolen from their homeland and sold into slavery.
It consists of 350 sculptures depicting the number of Africans originally forced onto the slave ship San Juan Bautista to travel across the Atlantic and suffer. A handful of those originally 350 ancestors became America’s first enslaved humans, according to an announcement made Friday by the London Mayor’s office, Breed.
The sculptural figures will surround the empty pedestal in the park’s music hall, where a statue of Francis Scott Key – who owned slaves and wrote derogatory about blacks – stood before it was overthrown by protesters last June.
The installation was approved last week by both the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Operations Committee of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission. It is currently being examined by the planning commission and must be approved by the city’s historic monument protection committee before installation.
The proposal stipulates that the art will stay two years until June 20, 2023.
“We almost never see pictures of black people in our public monuments or in American history,” said Ralph Remington, director of cultural affairs for San Francisco.
“So it’s no surprise that in a society rooted in white supremacy, people with color remain invisible and undervalued in our mythology, symbols, architecture, and national narrative. While the city’s historical works are in our civic art collection and exploring the future of monuments in San Francisco, this installation will help build and fuel a discourse about who and what we worship in our open spaces. “
Fundraising, public relations and ongoing support for the installation are provided by the Museum of the African Diaspora.
A video rendering of the art installation is available at aa6931a7de.