YONKERS, New York -- Community leaders in Yonkers unveiled the new Enslaved Africans Rain Garden on Friday.
The five life-sized sculptures overlook the Hudson River. They tell the story of enslaved Black people who lived and worked in the city and were among the first to be freed before the Emancipation Proclamation.
The ceremony kicks off on Juneteenth - it commemorates when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas finally learned they were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
"It is important to document history so we don't forget," said Vinnie Bagwell.
Bagwell is the artist behind the project that took more than a decade to make happen. He says it took 13 years, three months, and 14 days.
The day before its official debut, Bagwell says someone vandalized the sculptures, scraping the black color of the face of the little girl. A task Bagwell says would have taken some time.
However, the dark clouds could not dampen their spirit.
"We are used to vandalism - not acceptable," Bagwell said, "We are trying to help people have cross-cultural dialogue. There's no place for hate."