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Posts in Race & Ethnicity
The Red Line Archive: An Interview with Walis Johnson

The Red Line Archive: An Interview with Walis Johnson

Interviewed by Prithi Kanakamedala

Today on the blog, editor Prithi Kanakamedala sits down with artist Walis Johnson to discuss her current work, The Red Line Archive Project, which activates conversations about the personal and political effects of redlining using her own family’s story growing up in Brooklyn.

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“HORRID BARBARITY:” A Trial Against Slaveholders in New York City

“HORRID BARBARITY:” A Trial Against Slaveholders in New York City

By Kelly A. Ryan

In February 1809, three seamstresses made their way to the special justices of New York City to register a complaint against their employers for abusing the slaves living in their household. They charged Amos and Demiss Broad, a married couple who ran an upholstery and millinery business in the second ward of New York City, with a litany of abuses, including throwing a knife at a three-year-old child. An unlikely trial occurred at the Court of General Sessions by the end of the month, in which the Broads stood trial for assaulting Betty and her three-year-old daughter Sarah. Ultimately, nine witnesses came forward against the Broads, and two of the witnesses who originally agreed to provide evidence for the Broads ended up supporting the prosecution. Though the employees and neighbors of the Broads would be critical to pushing this case forward, Betty’s efforts to get help forced New York City to reckon with the cruelty of slaveholding. The case against the Broads would be a stunning victory for African Americans and the New York Society for the Manumission of Slaves (NYMS), as well as an important moment in generating discussions about the rights of slaves to live unmolested.

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Distant Islands: The Japanese American Community in New York City

Distant Islands: The Japanese American Community in New York City

Reviewed by Olga Souudi

Daniel H. Inouye’s Distant Islands is a richly detailed, extensive account of the lives of Japanese living in New York City between 1876 and the 1930s. Little scholarly work on the lives of Japanese in New York, and on the East Coast in general, exists, either historical or contemporary, and Inouye’s book is a valuable contribution to this underexplored field.

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From the CUNY Digital History Archive: The Five Demands and the University of Harlem

From the CUNY Digital History Archive: The Five Demands and the University of Harlem

By Chloe Smolarski

The CUNY Digital History Archive, founded in 2014, collects and makes available primary source documents that address the history of the City University of New York, the system of public colleges that serves New York City. Many of the collections date from the late 1960s and early 1970s, a time of radical ferment at CUNY. Following a historic wave of student protest, the university embarked upon a radical experiment that offered low-cost public higher education to all graduates of city high schools. In the piece that follows, CDHA Program and Collections Coordinator Chloe Smolarski highlights and contextualizes some key documents from the struggle of Black and Puerto Rican students at City College to build a university that responded to the needs of their communities. This year marks the fifty-year anniversary of those struggles. –Ed.

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Recovering New York’s Entangled Dutch, Native American, and African Histories: An Interview with Jennifer Tosch

Recovering New York’s Entangled Dutch, Native American, and African Histories: An Interview with Jennifer Tosch

By Andrea Mosterman

Many of New York’s Dutch colonists and their descendants relied on the labor of enslaved people. Some historic sites have struggled to address this part of their history and looked for ways in which they can share it with their visitors. For example, an exhibit at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn, built in 1699 by Hendrick Claessen Vechte, includes a brief discussion of the home’s enslaved residents. Yet, much of the Dutch history of slavery in New York City and its surroundings is still little known, especially among the general public.

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The State Versus Harlem

The State Versus Harlem

By Matt Kautz

Over the past few years, Americans have paid greater attention to the harm caused by opiates and rising heroin use, specifically in white, rural areas. The New York State Department of Health has dedicated a large portion of its website to sharing statistics of opioid overdoses in the state, warning signs about what addiction looks like, information on the state’s program for monitoring doctor’s prescriptions, and how those addicted can receive treatment.

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A Love Letter to Babette Edwards: Harlem’s “Othermother”

A Love Letter to Babette Edwards: Harlem’s “Othermother”

By Terri N. Watson

On February 5, 1971, Babette Edwards and Hannah Brockington submitted a joint letter of resignation from I.S. 201’s Community Education Center to David X. Spencer, chairman of the governing board for the Arthur A. Schomburg I.S. 201 Educational Complex. The three-page letter outlined their frustrations with the teachers and school leaders who worked in the complex and their belief that “schools exist to make teachers and principals happy; not a place where children learn.” In the opening paragraph Edwards explained the challenges faced by the parents of Harlem:

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“White Tigers Eat Black Panthers:” New York City’s Law Enforcement Group

“White Tigers Eat Black Panthers:” New York City’s Law Enforcement Group

By Jarrod Shanahan

In September 1968, three young members of the Black Panther Party (BPP) were arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court on charges stemming from a raucous Brooklyn street demonstration where uncollected garbage was set afire. BPP members and supporters rallied outside the court, hemmed in by New York Police Department (NYPD) cops who arrested two Party members for refusing to move behind a barricade. Upstairs, supporters were dramatically outnumbered by roughly 150 off-duty cops, many coming directly from the midnight to 8 a.m. shift, “barely concealing the guns and blackjacks tucked into their belts,” recalled mayoral aid Barry Gottehrer. “Some wore police badges.” The raucous crowd shouted “Win with [George] Wallace!” and “White power!”[1]

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Dreaming Diaspora in Chinatowns Around the Globe: An Interview with Diane Wong

Dreaming Diaspora in Chinatowns Around the Globe: An Interview with Diane Wong

Today on Gotham, Minju Bae interviews Diane Wong, co-curator of Homeward Bound: Global Intimacies in Converging Chinatowns, a recently-concluded exhibition at Pearl River Mart. Homeward Bound displayed photographs from thirteen Chinatowns around the world. These photographs came from the curators’ personal projects to learn from the people who have built homes, families, and communities in a global diaspora. The exhibit will travel to a number of other locations starting in the spring of next year.

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