Category Archives: African American History

An 1836 Utica Fugitive Slave Escape and Rescue


By on

0 Comments

The Hayden BuildingActivist, historian, author, and Utica native Deirdre Sinnott is set to present “Underground Railroad: The 1836 Escape, Arrest, and Rescue in Utica of George and Harry Bird” on Wednesday, September 26th at 5:30 pm at the Oneida County Historical Society.

The presentation is the culmination of extensive research by Sinnott and local Oneida County historians to demystify the 180-year-old story of two enslaved men who were encouraged by their dying mistress to run from their home in Woodstock, VA and find the path from slavery to freedom. Continue reading

New York Streets Named for Slave Traders


By on

19 Comments

slavery in new york city historyIn the 17th and 18th century, as New Amsterdam grew from a trading post into a village, a village into a town, and then a town into the port city of New York, its wealthiest residents were financially invested in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. And because they were among the most prominent of its early citizens, many of the city’s oldest streets are named after slaveholders and slave traders. An online database, New York Slavery Records Index, created by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, opens this forgotten history to public view.

During the past year a mayoral commission held public hearings and recommended that a statue of James Marion Sims, a 19th century American physician who experimented on enslaved African women, be removed from the Central Park wall at 103rd street and 5th Avenue in the City of New York. Unfortunately, the commission ignored much of the city’s deep connection to slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Continue reading

Samuel J. May Inducted to Abolition Hall of Fame


By on

0 Comments

Rev. Samuel J. May, Jr.Samuel J. May is set to be inducted to the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) on Saturday, October 20, 2018 at ceremonies held at 5255 Pleasant Valley Road in Peterboro.

At 3:30 pm Roger Hiemstra will present a program on May during the afternoon Abolition Symposia, and at the 7 pm Induction Ceremonies Mary Louise Edwards will officially nominate May to the Hall of Fame, and sponsors will unveil May’s banner which will be installed in the Hall of Fame. A second May banner will also be available for outreach exhibits. Continue reading

Abolitionist Writer Frances E.W. Harper: A Short Bio


By on

1 Comment

Frances E.W. Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911), née Watkins, was a prominent African-African female social reformer and writer of 19th century America. Watkins became an abolitionist orator after the passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. In 1854, while teaching at a school in York PA, she was scandalized by the wrongful enslavement and death of a free black laborer named Edward Davis.

Watkins entered the anti-slavery lecture circuit in Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She published the first edition of her bestseller, Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects in 1854. Watkins wove anti-slavery pieces such as The Slave Mother, Eliza Harris, The Slave Auction, A Mother’s Heroism, and The Fugitive’s Wife into a broader religious and moral framework. Watkins also published numerous abolitionist poems, speeches, essays and editorials – such as Be Active (1856), Could We Trace the Record of Every Human Heart (1857), Miss Watkins and the Constitution (1859), and Our Greatest Want (1859). Known by this time as the “bronze muse,” Harper also concerned herself with the broad reconstruction of the nation after the Civil War. She championed the rights of blacks and women in her work with the women’s rights movement. Harper died in 1911 and is buried in Eden Cemetery, an historic African American cemetery outside of Philadelphia. Continue reading

Museum Exhibit Recalls Adirondack Segregation


By on

0 Comments

Fulton Fryar in The Closet prior to its removal from Seagle Music ColonyAdirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, has announced a new acquisition on view in its Life in the Adirondacks exhibition: a cramped, dilapidated shack, known as “The Closet” that for two summers was home to a young and talented African-American tenor, Fulton Fryar.

Through the combined efforts of Adirondack Architectural Heritage, the Seagle Music Colony, and Adirondack Experience, this historic artifact was saved from demolition and will help educate museum visitors about the history of racial discrimination in the Adirondack Park. Continue reading

Kidnapped! Black New Yorkers Caught in the Slave Trade


By on

0 Comments

Author David Fiske is set to give lecture on Free blacks from New York State who were kidnapped and sold into slavery before the Civil War has been set for July 17, 2018 at 6:30 pm at the Warrensburgh Museum of Local History, 3754 Main Street.

In “Kidnapped! Black New Yorkers Caught in the Slave Trade,” Fiske will tell the stories of several New Yorkers who were kidnap victims – some from upstate communities and others from New York City. Continue reading