Weeksville Heritage Center Essay

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Weeksville Heritage Center This semester I had the opportunity to visit the Weeksville Heritage Center located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The Weeksville Heritage Center is Brooklyn 's largest African-American cultural institution. Weeksville is both a museum and a preserved historical site where free black people formed a thriving community at the height of slavery in the United States. It is historically significant because Weeksville was one of the first free Black communities prior to the Civil War that not only provided a place to call home, but also a sense of community and agency that appeared impossible for both bonds people and free men in the time of slavery. Weeksville is named after its founder James Weeks, a free black longshoreman from Virginia who purchased the land with the backing of investors in 1838- a mere 11 years after the abolishment of slavery in New York. While he may not…show more content…
In chapter five of Craig Wilder 's Covenant with Color: Race And Social Power in Brooklyn. We learned of the Draft Riots that rocked Manhattan in 1863 when the Irish working class learned that they were to be drafted into the Civil War. Fear of emancipated slaves migrating to New York and “stealing” jobs, Irish men rioted and directed their anger towards both free and enslaved black New Yorkers. During the tour I learned that Weeksville acted as vital refuge for blacks escaping the riots and violence in Manhattan. My trip to the Weeksville Heritage Center was an inspiring experience. Learning how a community not only managed to form, but to thrive against insurmountable odds was quite striking to me. As I left the refurbished homes and exited through the newly created, multimillion dollar facility that now acts as a community center, an art center and a living record of African-American history, I could not help but imagine how proud James Weeks would be to know that his community continues to be a force for change and education in countless people 's lives
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