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New Art Installation Proposed In San Francisco Would Recognize First Africans In America

Music Concourse.jpg
Christopher Porter
/
Flickr / Creative Commons
The Music Concourse area taken from the observation tower at the De Young Museum
The installation — titled "Monumental Reckoning" by Bay Area sculptor Dana King -- honors the first Africans stolen from their homeland and sold into slavery.

It consists of 350 sculptures representing the number of Africans initially forced onto the slave ship San Juan Bautista for a journey of death and suffering across the Atlantic. A handful of these original 350 ancestors became America's first enslaved people, according to the announcement issued Friday by the office of city Mayor London Breed.

The sculptural figures will surround the empty pedestal in the park's Music Concourse where a statue of Francis Scott Key — who owned slaves and wrote disparagingly of Black people — stood before it was toppled by protestors last June.

The installation was approved last week by both the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission's Operations Committee. It is currently under review by the Planning Commission and will also need approval by the city's Historical Preservation Committee before it can be installed.

The proposal is for the art to remain for a two-year stay through June 20, 2023.

"We almost never see images of Black people represented in our public monuments, or in the American telling of history," said Ralph Remington, San Francisco's Director of Cultural Affairs.