NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A play inspired by the African burial ground in Lower Manhattan imagines the lives of slaves and free people interred there.

Dramatist Judy Tate conceived the “American Slave Project” so black writers could tell the story.

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“We studied the burials at the African ground, we looked at the contents of the graves, talked to scholars,” Tate told WCBS 880’s Jane Tillman Irving.

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Scholars determined age, gender, state of health, even the type of work the Africans did. Tate and other dramatists then used their imaginations.

“And we gave voice to these anonymous, African-descended New Yorkers from colonial times,” Tate explained.

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The play, called “Unheard Voices,” gives formerly anonymous slaves individuality, personality, and above all, humanity.