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date: 14 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Archaeology occupies an important place in historicizing the African American experience – principally where little historical evidence survives. The nature of African American archaeology is such that archaeologists are continually challenged by the unexpected and hampered by the unknown. These are the qualities of the field that alternately inflame and inspire the public. This article examines the constructive outcomes, lasting societal benefits, and enduring commemorative legacies that arise when individuals act collectively to define historical value and meaning through archaeology. Public intervention-shaped research and eventual outcomes at the four sites are discussed, namely: The President's House in Philadelphia; the Henrietta Marie; the Freedmen's Cemetery in Alexandria, VA; and New York City's African Burial Ground. For each site, the public has played a major role in reclamation, scholarly and public interpretation, and, finally, monumental recognition.

Keywords: archaeology, commemorative legacies, societal benefits, public intervention, monumental recognition

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