Category Archives: African American History

Exhibit: Freed Slave, New Paltz Landowner John Hasbrouck


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John Hasbrouck Account BookHistoric Huguenot Street has curated a new exhibit entitled John Hasbrouck, “A Most Estimable Citizen,” now on display at the DuBois Visitor Center, 81 Huguenot Street, through June 27, 2017.

John Hasbrouck was born to an enslaved woman in New Paltz in 1806 and, later, as a freeman, was able to purchase land in the town. He is commonly believed to be the first African American eligible to vote in New Paltz. The exhibit features original records; two account books in John’s own hand, listing work he did for white farmers and how he was compensated; as well as personal notes, letters, and receipts. The exhibit is accompanied by a full-length, biographical essay written by Josephine Bloodgood, Director of Curatorial and Preservation Affairs. Continue reading

The Washingtons’ Runaway Slave, Ona Judge


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ben_franklins_worldGeorge Washington was an accomplished man. He served as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, first President of the United States, and on top of all that he was also a savvy businessman who ran a successful plantation.

George Washington was also a slaveholder. In 1789, he and his wife Martha took 7 slaves to New York City to serve them in their new role as First Family. A 16 year-old girl named Ona Judge was one of the enslaved women who accompanied and served the Washingtons.

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Erica Dunbar, a Professor of Black American Studies and History at the University of Delaware and author of Never Caught: The Washington’s Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge (Atria Books, 2017), leads us through the early American life of Ona Judge.  You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/137 Continue reading

Nat Turner’s Revolt, 1831


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ben_franklins_worldThe institution of African slavery in North America began in late August 1619 and persisted until the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in December 1865.

Over those 246 years, many slaves plotted and conspired to start rebellions, but most of the plotted rebellions never took place. Slaveholders and whites discovered them before they could begin. Therefore, North America witnessed only a handful of slave revolts between 1614 and 1865. Nat Turner’s Rebellion in August 1831 stands as the most deadly.

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Patrick Breen, an Associate Professor of History at Providence College and author of The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt (Oxford University Press, 2016), joins us to investigate the ins and outs of this bloodiest of North American slave revolts. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/133

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Pinkster Celebration at Fort Crailo Saturday


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pinkster celebrationOn April 22, 2017 from 11 am to 4 pm, Crailo State Historic Site will host a Pinkster celebration featuring the performance and education group, The Children of Dahomey.

Once a Dutch holiday commemorating Pentecost, Pinkster became a distinctly African American holiday in the Hudson River Valley during the colonial era. During the 17th and 18th centuries, enslaved and free African Americans transformed Pinkster from a Dutch religious observance into a spring festival and a celebration of African cultural traditions. All along the Hudson River and on Albany’s “Pinkster Hill” (the current site of the NYS Capitol), enslaved African Americans reunited with family and friends and celebrated Pinkster with storytelling, food, music, and dance. Other Pinkster traditions, like the selection of the Pinkster King, created opportunities for enslaved African Americans to honor respected members of the community and to subtly mock their white enslavers. Continue reading

Idealist-on-the Hudson: Martha Gruening’s ‘Libertarian’ School


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gomez mill houseThe three-century-long ownership chain of the Gomez Mill House in Marlboro is a many-tiered, richly-textured layer cake of personal stories.

Specific historic periods lend unique flavoring to each personal history.

But in the case of the recently-rediscovered activist Martha Gruening (1889-1937), her early-20th dreams of a better, more just world have a distinctly modern resonance. Continue reading

Black Soldiers of New York State Lecture In Schenectady


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black soldiers of ny stateAfrican Americans have a long, and often overlooked record of serving in NYS armed forces. Join the Schenectady County Historical Society on Saturday, April 1 at 2 pm, as author Anthony Gero explores the contributions of New York’s African Americans prior to the military’s integration.

African American solders – in spite of many obstacles – served courageously and valiantly, winning many commendations and earning the respect of friend and foe alike. This talk is presented as part of the “Together Until the End: Schenectady in the First World War” series. Continue reading

New Exhibit: Black Radical Women 1965-85


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Jan van Raay A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum continues with We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85.

Focusing on the work of more than forty black women artists from an under-recognized generation, the exhibition highlights a group of artists who committed themselves to activism during a period of profound social change marked by the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, the Women’s Movement, the Anti-War Movement, and the Gay Liberation Movement, among others. Continue reading

Gerrit Smith, John Brown, and the Crusade for Social Reform


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gerrit smithPeterboro NY will launch its 2017 Crusade for Social Reform at 1 pm on Saturday, March 11, with the annual celebration of Gerrit Smith’s birthday, held at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road.

Born March 6, 1797, Gerrit Smith, who lived and worked his entire adult life in Peterboro, was known for his philanthropy and activism for equality. Norman K. Dann PhD, researcher and author of Practical Dreamer: Gerrit Smith and the Crusade for Social Reform will introduce the 19th century Smith family activities, and then volunteers from the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) will explain the 2017 programs that will continue the quest for human rights in the 21st Century. Continue reading