Slavery in early America was widespread in both the North and the South. The individuals who suffered under its manacles deserve recognition and respect.

Stopping Stones is an historical reparations endeavor designed to bring attention to the persons and places impacted by slavery, to reveal the roots of prejudice and hatred against African Americans in the United States and to catalyze actions to extinguish their impact.

Its objectives are to:

  • create memorials for enslaved Africans and African American individuals in the places where they were held and labored,
  • engage local sponsors and citizens,
  • encourage actions to end the abuse and discrimination of their descendants and
  • for each local sponsor to use the Stopping Stone and its associated digital archive to advance their own mission and purpose and to incorporate the Stone as part of the site’s specific story and to help it become a forward-acting endeavor.

Conceived and led by participatory artist and activist, Paul Growald, Stopping Stones creation was inspired by the works of artist, Gunter Demnig, whose Stolpersteine have memorialized the names of more than 58,000 victims of Nazi atrocities in Germany and 19 other European countries. Each small brass plaque contains one victim’s name, and is embedded in the sidewalk at their last known residence.

Stopping Stones adapts this idea in the United States to recognize the names of enslaved individuals and call attention to the locations where slavery existed in early America – starting mostly in Northern states. Each is a 4” x 4” brass plaque hand-embossed with the person’s name and occupation and a date of their enslavement (both when available). This plaque is then mounted on a granite stone and installed flush with the surrounding walkway at the location where they were held or labored.

Each Stopping Stone will also include an identifying “marker” that will link to an interactive, online database that containing available information about the person named, (their story, their descendant’s stories) as well as documentation about the sponsoring organization’s or individual’s experience in unearthing the history of the enslaved person.

We also encourage the sponsoring organization to plan and hold an installation ceremony, and to use the name on each Stone and in the database to build educational programs and awareness that will bolster efforts to help visitors learn of their contribution in the building of our country and to highlight the achievements of their descendants.

We are dedicated to each Stopping Stone becoming integral to its location’s history and the local sponsor’s objectives. Our “vision” is to dignify and recognize the humanity of each individual named. Through this experience, and the concrete steps flowing from it, we hope to catalyze work to eliminate the enduring racism in American society.

Paul Growald's Handwritten Signature

Creator of the project, Paul Growald