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United Nations Unveils "The Ark of Return" Memorial to Victims of Slavery

Architect Rodney Leon Designs Spiritual Place of Remembrance

The United Nations announced today the observance of the eighth International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. More than 15 million men, women, and children were victims of the triangular slave trade, the largest forced migration in history.

This year, the United Nations proudly invites visitors to the historic unveiling of The Ark of Return, the permanent memorial, designed by Rodney Leon an American architect of Haitian descent. 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, as its theme suggests, The Ark of Return will help us to acknowledge the tragedy, consider the legacy of slavery, and never forget the millions of people affected by these events. It is designed in three parts for visitors to walk through and initiate a psychological, emotional, and spiritual transformation. It provides a solemn space within which one may reflect upon a tragic page in the history of mankind.

In his annual message about the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, "The Ark of Return Memorial will bring home to visitors from around the world the terrible legacy of the slave trade. It will enable them to reflect on a core goal of the United Nations: the promotion and preservation of the dignity, freedom and equality of all human beings."

About Rodney Leon
Rodney Leon, the founder and principal of Rodney Leon Architects PLLC 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. Mr. Leon focuses his professional efforts and has developed an expertise in modern "Culturally Contextual" global design. 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. Mr. 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. Mr. 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. For additional information about Rodney Leon Architects, please visit

Rita C. Joseph | RJ Media PR
(646) 258-6985 – Mobile | (718) 623-2300 – Office

NEW YORK, March 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

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