Black History Fact Of The Day: New York, 1860 or 2016?

Red, Black & Green Elsie Law Logo“New York, a city whose development had been so decisively shaped by slavery. In 1860, the city’s 12,472 blacks were widely dispersed among eight different wards, in enclaves that, while often separate, were not sharply demarcated in the manner of segregated ghettos of twentieth-century Northern cities.

Black New Yorkers’ choice of where to live was hardly a free one: they clustered in certain neigborhoods because few white landlords would rent to them.” -From, “Slavery In New York”

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The History Of The Black Vote: Part 1

Black Voters“The first premise of the argument to deny black New Yorkers the vote asserted that African-Americans were by nature incapable of responsibly exercises this precious right of self-rule. ‘The minds of the blacks are not competent to vote,’ argued one [New York State Constitutional] Convention member. ‘They are too ignorant to know whether their vote is given to elevate another to office, or to hang themselves upon the gallows,’ said another. Left to their own devices the argument went, blacks would sell their votes to the highest bidder- who, thesis Republicans feared, would probably be federalists. Suffrage restriction recapitulated and strengthened the thinking of the American Colonization Society, which asserted that freedom was one thing but political equality quite another. Republican convention delegate Peter Livingston was willing to grant blacks freedom, legal protection, and religious liberty. ‘But if they are dangerous to your political institutions,’ he warned his fellow delegates, ‘put not a weapon in their hands to destroy you.’…

To such thinking there could be no right hand response. ‘Do our prejudices against their color destroy their rights as citizens?’ Asked Federalist Abraham Van Vechten. White New Yorkers decided that they did. The convention removed all property restrictions on white men only to impose a $250 property requirement on black voters. By 1826, further limits on white voting were removed, yet by then only sixteen blacks in New York County could vote.”-From, “Slavery in New York”

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Black History Fact Of The Day: How NYC’s Wall Street Got Its Name

Wall Street 1600sIn March 1653, Peter Stuyvesant, the director of the slave-trading Dutch West India Company and the Director-General of New Netherland, now known as New York, ordered slaves to build blockades to serve as protective barriers for the area of lower Manhattan.

Stuyvesant reportedly demanded that the log-made barricade be “12 feet long, 18 inches in circumference, sharpened at the upper end,” and stretch from “river to river across Manhattan Island.

The slaves were burdened with the task of building “The Wall” to help shield the Dutch settlers from New Netherland’s native inhabitants.

After the construction of “The Wall,” the area on which the wall was located was called Wall Street.

[Bibliography: Slavery In New York]

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Black History Fact Of The Day: The African American Man Who Founded Bushwick, Brooklyn

Red, Black & Green Elsie Law LogoIn 1661, a man who was known as “Francisco the Negro” helped to found what is now Bushwick, Brooklyn. He was one of the 23 founders of that area. In 1661, Bushwick was known as Boswijk.

[Bibliography: Slavery In New York]

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When Washington Square Park Was Owned By African Americans

Washington Square ParkRecently, burial vaults were discovered underneath Washington Square Park. Archaeologists are reportedly still trying to determine the exact origins of the vaults; however, they claim that they believe the vaults date back to the 19th century.

Way before the 19th century, African Americans who were brought to the United States as chattel, owned approximately 130 acres of land that comprise and surround the are in New York City that is presently known as Washington Square Park.

Ownership of the parcel of land was granted to a group of African Americans in the mid-17th century. The brewing conflict between Dutch “settlers” and the Native Americans was the catalyst for this land ownership. The Dutch granted the Africans ownership of the land in an attempt to create a geographic buffer between themselves and the Native Americans, thereby potentially protecting them from attacks by the Natives.

The Dutch granted Africans land between Manhattan’s southern tip- where they settled, and Manhattan’s northern area- where the Native Americans resided.

It will be interesting to see if the discovered vaults are announced to have any African American connections.

[Bibliography: Slavery In New York]

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