Category Archives: African American History

John Brown Lives! To Recognize Danny Glover, Alice Green, Brother Yu


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John Brown Day 2016 PosterActor and activist Danny Glover, Albany civil rights leader Alice Green and youth advocate Brother Yusuf Abdul-Wasi Burgess will be the first recipients of the Spirit of John Brown Freedom Award, to be awarded at the John Brown Day 2016 celebration on Saturday, May 7th, at 1 pm.

The annual event, which is organized by Westport-based human rights and freedom education project John Brown Lives!, will be held at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid. The public is welcome. Continue reading

Underground Railroad: New York’s Freedom Trail Failures


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The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence (Lakestolocks)While recently investigating the dismal record of the Amistad Commission, I came across the Underground Railroad portion of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (State Parks) – there I found reference to the New York State Freedom Trail, which began as a state project with similarly high hopes and followed the same trajectory to substandard results.

According to the State Parks webpage: “The New York State Freedom Trail Act of 1997 proposed the establishment of a Freedom Trail Commission to plan and implement a New York State Freedom Trail program to commemorate these acts of freedom and to foster public understanding of their significance in New York State history and heritage.”

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The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton


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prince of darkness_MECH_01.inddShane White’s book Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire (St. Martin’s Press, 2015) is the story of 19th century business man Jeremiah Hamilton, who overcame adversity and discrimination to become one of the wealthiest men of his time, earning a fortune of $2 million, valued at $250,000 million in today’s world.

This is a historical account of an African American man who held his own in the business world, bought a mansion in rural New Jersey, and owned railroad stock on trains he wasn’t legally allowed to ride. Cornelius Vanderbilt, America’s first tycoon, came to respect, grudgingly, his one-time opponent. Continue reading

The Mystery of Dutchess County’s Chief Crow


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chief crow burial groundA familiar blue 1935 New York State Education Department roadside marker proclaims, “Indian Burial Ground. Chief Crow and other Mohican Shacomecos of Moravian Faith buried here. Last burial about 1850.”

At first glance, the marker is not at all out of place. The sign is located in the hamlet of Jackson Corners on the Roeliff Jansen Kill, a 56-mile tributary of the Hudson River that is considered to have been populated by the Mohican. The hamlet is technically in Dutchess County’s town of Milan, but borders on Pine Plains, the location of Shacomeco village, and Columbia County’s Gallatin. Continue reading

Crailofest Celebrates New World African Culture


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Crailo Historic SiteThe public is invited to the opening day of Crailofest, a celebration of African culture in the New World, on April 2, 2016.

From 12:30 until 2 pm, Crailo will be open for self-guided exploration of a new exhibit A Dishonorable Trade: Human Trafficking in the Dutch Atlantic World and the permanent exhibit A Sweet and Alien Land.

Two more Crailofest days will take place on May 7 and June 4 with dramatic performances, poetry readings, stringed instrument performances, jazz, dance, art and food.

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How Historians Work: Early American Slavery


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ben_franklins_worldHow did enslaved African and African American women experience slavery?

What were their daily lives like?

And how do historians know as much as they do about enslaved women?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the answers to these questions with Jennifer L. Morgan, a Professor of History and Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University and our guide for an investigation into how historians research history.  You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/070

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Firefight: The Battle to Integrate the NYFD


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firefightGinger Adams Otis’ new book Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest (2015 Palgrave MacMillan) offers a fresh look at New York City’s firefighters’ critical Civil Rights history.

Firefight is a narrative from veteran reporter Ginger Adams Otis that delves deep into the struggle of black firefighters to truly integrate the FDNY – the largest fire department in the U.S.

It sheds light on the long, painful effort to achieve the still-elusive post-racial America and shares the untold history of the black men and women who battled to join the Bravest. Continue reading

Book of Early NYC Church Records Published


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liber a part 2A new book, Liber A of the Collegiate Churches of New York, Part 2, provides new insight on colonial New York as a diverse New World economic hub. This volume includes a more-complete set of records of early life in the church, a cornerstone of colonial life.

Liber A Part 2 contains 17th-century records from the Reformed Dutch Church of the City of the New York, founded in 1628, which later became the Collegiate Churches of New York. The book includes details about daily life, baptism and marriage practices from this period, providing fundamental context. This volume is a companion to Liber A , published in 2009, and includes the church’s earliest moments such as details of its construction and the royal charter that led to its founding.

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Free Citizens Kidnapped Before the Civil War


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians” podcast David Fiske discusses his new book, “Solomon Northup’s Kindred: The Kidnapping of Free Citizens before the Civil War” (Praeger, 2016). Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University professor and PBS host, said, “Fiske’s efforts to document these victims and the crimes that robbed them of their families and freedom are heroic indeed and should be applauded.” Fiske previously was the co-author of “Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave.” You can listen to the entire podcast here. Continue reading

Sumner Lark’s Putnam County African-American Projects


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sumner h larkAlthough his father was said to have been born as a slave, and was later a junk dealer in the Augusta, Georgia area,  Sumner H. Lark came to be a trend-breaking black leader in New York State who worked to establish an African-American community in Putnam County.

Sumner Lark was born in in 1874 to a father later described as “a pioneer race business man in his home town and accumulated a considerable fortune at one time.” He grew up in the Augusta area, and attended the Haines Institute before attending Howard University, graduating in 1897. He then returned to Georgia, taught Chemistry and Physics at Haines and ran a local newspaper for about a year, having edited a student-run newspaper in college.  After marrying he relocated to Brooklyn, New York just after the start of the 20th century. There, he ran his own printing business, and started The Eye, a newspaper which reported information of interest to African Americans. Continue reading