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Mirror Images: Historical Links between the United States and Mali

Found at a construction site in Alexandria, Virginia, a small iron statue from the late 18th century indicates the possible presence of a Bambara (Bamanan) artisan. The statue went unnoticed by many, yet it remains an enduring symbol of contributions by the peoples of Mali to the New World.

Malians and other West Africans brought to the United States as slaves shaped the cultural landscape. The sacred knowledge they associated with blacksmithing and sculpting influenced the development of wrought-iron grillwork and skilled carpentry in Southern coastal cities, much of it done by Africans brought specifically for that purpose from what is now

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