Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Underground Railroad or Underground Rhetoric?

This Plan and collaboration that went into its development underscore the Mayor's commitment that residents should decide the future of their communities," said Deputy Mayor Doctoroff. "Downtown Brooklyn has enormous potential for further quality development and the Administration is determined to ensure that we continue to build consensus going forward so that we meet the needs and interests of everyone involved.
I discussed this quote in June, and it comes from a 2003 press release. It seems like yesterday's press release is a direct continuation of the previous rhetoric of the Bloomberg administration. It is exactly NOT what the New York Post reported:
The Underground Railroad will be officially commemorated in Brooklyn, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday.
Bloomberg said nothing about commemorating the Underground Railroad— the press release was about the Abolitionist movement. Here's what the press release said about the Underground Railroad:
an extensive research effort was completed in response to suggestions that certain houses on Duffield and Gold Streets in Downtown Brooklyn played a role in the Underground Railroad. The research did not directly connect Underground Railroad activity to the houses, but it did confirm a great deal of abolitionist activity in the area.
"Right now, Brooklyn's role in advancing abolitionism and in the Underground Railroad is practically invisible to most New Yorkers," said Councilmember David Yassky. "Today we are making a commitment to make that history more visible, so children can learn its enormously important lessons."
I am greatly encouraged by the new panel announced by Bloomberg. Unfortunately, he did not express any interest in promoting the Underground Railroad history, which seems to be closely linked to 227 Duffield and the surrounding homes.

Bloomberg has been talking about the need to work with the community in Downtown Brooklyn for four (4) years now. Even though he ignored the conclusions of AKRF's Peer Reviewers, and even though he did not consult the Duffield Street stakeholders yesterday, let's hope today is a new day.

If the NYC Economic Development Corporation remains in control, then the Duffield Street Abolitionist homes will be confiscated and destroyed to build a parking lot. If the new panel has some real power, then there is hope to develop Downtown Brooklyn through the promotiong of the Abolitionist history at 227 Duffield.