US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen the salmon-coloured house on an island off Senegal on Saturday (Jan.22) that is one of the most recognised symbols of the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade.
It is part of a 10-day trip aimed at rebuilding economic relationships between the United States and Africa.
The building was known as the House of Slaves from which tens of millions of Africans were shipped across the Atlantic; never to return.
Yellen said: "Gorée and the trans-Atlantic slave trade are not just a part of African history. They are a part of American history as well."
"We know that the tragedy did not stop with the generation of humans taken from here. Even after slavery was abolished, Black Americans — many of whom can trace their descendants through ports like this across Africa — were denied the rights and freedoms promised to them under our Constitution."
In the US, African slaves and their children contributed to the building of the nation's most storied institutions, including the White House and Capitol, according to the White House Historical Association.
Yellen acknowledged the ongoing ramifications of that brutal past and the survival of many of its victims.
"In the United States, what's remarkable is how many African-American men and women overcame the odds, created better lives for themselves and their descendants and became central to our economy and democracy, building our cities, powering our industries and bending the conscience of the United States and the world toward justice and all of this in the face of systemic social and economic injustice," she said.
Yellen's trip to the island is one that many dignitaries have made, including former US presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and South Africa's Nelson Mandela.
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