Central Park is teaming up with the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art (SDAAMFA) to bring a one-of-a-kind augmented reality experience to honor the Black lives lost to acts of racism and injustice. The “Say Their Names” memorial will be on display in the section of the park formerly named Seneca Village.
Seneca Village was “Manhattan’s first significant settlement of black property owners and the epicenter of black political power in Manhattan during the mid-19th century.
The village occupied land along what is now Central Park’s western edge, between roughly 83rd and 89th Streets.” Its tight-knit residents, who cultivated the community for over three decades from 1825 until 1857, were forced out by the City exercising eminent domain and, as historian Leslie M. Alexander wrote, “effectively erased from the memory of New York City” soon thereafter.
SDAAMFA’s memorial will run from September 17 to October 17 just off West Drive near West 85th Street inside Central Park. It will include 50 virtual pedestals spanning 200 years with over 200 photos of Black people who died as the result of racially-motivated violence.
The first installment began in Portland, Oregon on Juneteenth 2020 and expanded to over 25 locations nationwide since. The New York exhibition will be “customized” for the state and will include the ten victims of the race-based murder at a supermarket in Buffalo in May 2022. It will also have memorials for Eric Garner, Emmett Till, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor.
Those seeking to unlock the Say Their Names Memorial will need to download the Membit App but will have to wait until the September 17 to unlock the Augmented Reality exhibit. Registration for tickets is required. Tickets are free and can be reserved here. Donations are also accepted with ticketing registration.
The Say Their Name Memorial – produced by SDAAMFA in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the New York Urban League, and other cultural institutions in the City – does acknowledge that its database is not exhaustive and relies on the public initiative “to learn the names and hear the stories of loved ones and community members who are not on our list.” Its site offers a link to submit the names and stories directly.