Five days of ceremonies in six cities came to a end on Saturday, in downtown Manhattan, as the remains of dozens of the earliest African Americans were laid to rest once again.
The re-interment of 419 men, women and children, represents a fraction of the estimated 20,000 who were buried on the five-acre site, over an 80 year period spanning most of the 18th century.
The colonial-era cemetery was located beyond the edge of the settlement that used to stand on what is now downtown Manhattan.
Celebrations at the burial - but also anger at the slaves' fate
The defensive wall that gave "Wall Street" its name, was the original boundary. Blacks - most of whom were enslaved - were not allowed to be buried anywhere else.
The burial ground was recorded on old maps, but essentially forgotten, until 1991 when some of the remains were discovered during excavations for a Federal office building.
Not everyone in the African American community was in favour of exhuming the remains, but they were dug up and forensically examined to gain a greater understanding of exactly how they lived, and died.
An initial report on the remains is due to be published next month, but it is clear that the lives of those earliest African settlers on Manhattan's shores were harsh, short and often brutal.
Although the mood was celebratory among the large crowd who turned up in the early autumn drizzle to mark the re-interment, there was undisguised anger at the conditions in which their enslaved ancestors were forced to live.
"It's a bitter-sweet day for me," said Brooklyn-based teacher Stahmili Mapp.
"I'm still not sure it was right to disturb the spirits of all those sisters and brothers. But it does make you realise that Manhattan then was as much a part of the slave trade as the south."
"I am proud that despite it all we made this a sacred place, and it's good that people now respect that," she adds: "Today I feel that the spirit world is visible right alongside the material world."
The journey that ended here today, began last Tuesday in Washington DC. Four burial caskets hand-carved in Ghana, containing the remains of a man, woman, girl and boy, provided a centrepiece for commemorations held along the way in Baltimore, Delaware, Philadelphia, and Newark.
And they took ceremonial centre-stage for the last time here in Foley Square, just a few hundred metres away from their final resting place.
Dozens of singers, dancers, politicians, religious leaders, writers, and musicians led a three-hour tribute ceremony that evoked tears and laughter in equal measure.
Dr Walter Turnbull is the founder of the Harlem Boys' Choir, and Harlem Girls' Choir: "The bones of my ancestors here, represent an indomitable spirit," he told me.
"Today is very significant, it reminds this city and the rest of America not to forget the contribution that Africans made. They built a lot of this place, and then they were forgotten," he adds.
Apart from the invited guests and dignitaries, many ordinary citizens had come to savour the ceremony, and remember the dead.
Stahmili Mapp: Voicing the emotions of many
Odella Woodson, 42, lives on Manhattan's upper west side: "It's right to celebrate this with music and dancing - we are celebrating our ancestors' lives," she says.
"It is indicative of our current power, as African Americans, that we can hold this ceremony here today, surrounded by all these federal buildings," she adds.
Among those addressing the crowd were the poet and performer Maya Angelou, actress Cicely Tyson, and actors Avery Brooks and Delroy Lindo.
The Rev. Herbert Daughtry, a veteran civil rights' activist, raised a heartfelt cheer when he made a special plea for divine intervention:
"Now Lord, while we do not beseech you for bright and sunny days, we would like it to stop raining, so we don't have to have these umbrellas all over the place.."
"Let us take our ancestors to their final resting place at least in the comfort of clear weather," he intoned.
Shortly after 1pm, his prayer was effectively answered, and a controversial chapter in African American history was completed.
The city's mayor Michael Bloomberg reminded everyone on Friday, that the South Street Seaport which is now a vibrant tourist attraction, used to be a slave market.
In a country where racial tension is often all too evident, it is as well to remember just how palpable those roots are.