For years I have incorporated NYC’s African American History into the fabric of my walking tours and our online events, illuminating the expansive impact of Black History on New York City and beyond, as well as the contributions of individual African Americans.
In the course of these tours and events we have recounted NYC’s own history of slavery and not shied away from the fact that many of our founders had slaves, and the reality that the rights bestowed upon people via the U.S. Constitution excluded people of color and women. Indeed it was not until the 20th century that women and people and color were guaranteed the right to vote.
Tours over the past seven years have included: visits to the African Burial Ground National Memorial; the site of the 18th century slave market on Wall Street; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; historic houses of worship; Underground Railroad sites; Marcus Garvey Park (for the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival); the Apollo Theater, and the Jazz Museum of America in Harlem. Our numerous guided walks in Harlem have brought to life the history and legacy of the Harlem Renaissance and also the vibrancy of today’s Harlem neighborhoods and the resilience of its housing, architecture and cultural institutions over time.
Today we can celebrate the formal acknowledgement of the Juneteenth Holiday, June 19th, also called Emancipation Day and Freedom Day, by Governor Cuomo's announcement that it will be a formal New York State holiday beginning next year and a holiday by Executive Order this year.
"Friday is Juneteenth — a day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States — and it's a day that is especially relevant in this moment in history," Governor Cuomo said in a news release. "Although slavery ended over 150 years ago, there has still been rampant, systemic discrimination and injustice in this state and this nation, and we have been working to enact real reforms to address these inequalities."
For those who wish to learn more about Juneteenth, here are some links to resources and events, along with Untapped Cities list of 33 places in NYC to learn about African American History.
New York Historical Society – Celebrating Juneteenth – The Legacy of Frederick Douglass
The Bowery Boys Podcast on the African American Community of Seneca Village (today’s Central Park).
Other local events via this these links:
BLACK HISTORY SITES IN NEW YORK