Friday, September 26, 2008

City chooses Brooklyn Historical Society, Weeksville & Irondale Ensemble to commemorate Abolitionism

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and friends announced today the groups they have chosen to memorialize Brooklyn's Abolitionist history:

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), in cooperation with the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, and in partnership with a Commemoration Advisory Panel, has selected In Pursuit of Freedom, a multi-faceted proposal to memorialize the history of abolitionism, the anti-slavery movement, and the Underground Railroad in Brooklyn. The proposal was designed by the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Weeksville Heritage Center and the Irondale Ensemble Project in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by NYCEDC. The project will provide new resources for understanding Brooklyn’s important role in the abolitionist movement through exhibitions, marked walking tours, a theater project and a website.
We applaud the City's efforts to celebrate this history, and it is encouraging that they see that this history as an important part of Brooklyn's future. Here is a description of the project:

In Pursuit of Freedom contains four inter-related components:

  • A commemorative artistic installation in Downtown Brooklyn will be the starting point for visitors to follow a series of historical markers at sites throughout the borough. A self-guided walking tour of these sites will also be created and distributed at key locations in Brooklyn.

  • Interpretative exhibits will be installed at the Brooklyn Historical Society, Weeksville Heritage Center and the Irondale Center at Lafayette Avenue Church. Each of these installations will include images, maps and primary source documents, and will be closely aligned with the needs of teachers and students.

  • An original theater piece will draw upon the story of abolitionism in Brooklyn as it relates to important issues that continue to challenge contemporary society.

  • An interactive website will connect all of the components to make the project available to a national and international audience.

    There was no mention of Duffield Street in the press release, and to this day, the City has not acknowledged any historical importance to the street.

    We invite everyone— especially the EDC and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership— to come to 227 Duffield and the neighboring historically significant sites. In the words of Deborah Schwartz, President, Brooklyn Historical Society (via the EDC press release):

    The struggle for freedom was not only fought on battle fields, but also in churches, schools, newspapers and local communities all over America. Leaders and activists who lived and worked in Brooklyn were vital to the outcome; their stories need to be told and understood. With this project we hope to invigorate a lively civic discourse about the relationship of history to our present lives.