Metrofocus: June 15, 2022

The murder of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer sparked a movement, not only of support for Black people in America but also a re-examination of our history on race, and making Juneteenth a federal holiday. It is with that awareness that our multimedia platform ALL ARTS is presenting “The Roll Call: The Roots to Strange Fruit” as part of a Juneteenth marathon on Sunday, June 19th. The film, commissioned for the “ALL ARTS Artist in Residence” series, is a visual, sonic opera that follows the African-American experience from 1619 through abolition. Joining us to discuss the film is the director, Jonathan McCrory, who is also the Executive Artistic Director at the National Black Theatre.

In February 2021, after decades of local activism, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to designate a small brick home in Brooklyn as an historic landmark. In the mid-19th century, 227 Duffield Street was owned by abolitionist couple Harriet and Thomas Truesdell and it is thought that their home served as a temporary stop for those escaping slavery on the Underground Railroad. After being landmarked, local activists have been urging officials to create a cultural destination in Downtown Brooklyn that will honor the area’s rich abolitionist history. Historian and preservationist, Michael Henry Adams joins us with an important lesson on honoring our history.

 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, JUNETEENTH, SLAVERY AND THE MODERN-DAY STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE.

FROM THE ORIGINS OF THE BLACK EXPERIENCE FOR AMERICA, AND THE BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, WE LOOK TO THE PAST ABOUT OUR FUTURE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪ ♪♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- ♪♪ ♪♪

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

THE MURDER OF FLOYD SPARKED A MOVEMENT NOT ONLY SUPPORT FOR BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA AND A RE-EXAMINATION OF HISTORY ON RACE AND MAKING JUNETEENTH A FEDERAL HOLIDAY AND IT IS WITH THAT AWARENESS THAT OUR MULTIMEDIA STREAMING PLATFORM IS PRESENTING ITS ARTIST IN RESIDENCE SERIES AS PART OF OF A JUNETEENTH MARATHON ON SUNDAY JUNE 19th.

THE SERIES WILL FEECH THE FILM, THE ROLL CALL AND A VISUAL, SONIC OPERA THAT FOLLOWS THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN EXPERIENCE THROUGH 1619 THROUGH ABOLITION.

HERE'S A CLIP.

MIGRATION WON.

THE BLACK.

178.

SUGAR AND COTTON PLANTATION.

SLAVES.

ARE.

IN THE SUCCESSION OF WM.M. AND FOR A PARTITION OF G.A. BEARD AUCTIONEER.

TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY, 13th AND 14th, MARCH 1855 AT 12:00 ON EACH DAY WILL BE SOLD AT AUCTION ON BANK'S ARCADE MAGAZINE STREET.

IN THE CITY OF --

NEW ORLEANS.

BY AND IN PURSUANCE BY THE HONORABLE DISTRICT COURT OF NEW ORLEANS.

THE SLAVES COMPRISING OF GAINS BELONGED TO THE SUCCESSION OF WILLIAM M. AMBET.

TURN.

ONE-THIRD CASH AND THE REMAINDER AT 12 MONTHS.

CREDIT FOR APPROVED CITY PAPER, BEARING VENDORS' LIEN MORTGAGE ON THE SLAVES AND EVENTUAL INTEREST OF 8%. IN CASE OF NON-PAYMENT AT MATURITY.

ALL CELLS TO BE COMPLETED WITHIN TEN DAYS.

FROM ADJUDICATION.

OR THE SLAVES WILL BE RE-SOLD FOR ACCOUNT AND RISK A FORMER PURCHASER AFTER TEN DAYS.

ADVERTISEMENT IN ONE CITY PAPER WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE WERE PUTTING DEFAULT.

CATALOG.

SLAVES FROM THE WAIVERLY PLANTATION TO WIT.

FRANK BOMB, 45 YEARS, GOOD TEAM MASTER AND FIELD HAND.

TWO, ELIZA, 35, CHOICE FIELD HAND.

THIRD, SARAH.

LUISA, FOUR YEARS, FIVE, HARRIET, SIX YEARS.

ONE FAMILY.

AND JOINING ME NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE FILM IS THE DIRECTOR OF 'ROLL CALL,' THE ROOTS TO STRANGE FRUIT, JONATHAN McCRORY.

JONATHAN IS THE EXECUTIVE ARTISTIC DISASTER FOR THE NATIONAL BLACK THEATER, THE LONGEST RUNNING BLACK THEATER IN NEW YORK CITY.

SO GOOD TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS'.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

IT MEANS A LOT.

FOR PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS THAT THEY SAW IN THE CLIP.

I KNOW THE FILM SORT OF EXISTS IN THREE PARTS AND CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT REALLY WHAT THE FILM IS AND WHAT IT REPRESENTS AND WHAT IT'S CONVEYING HERE.

THE FILM IS LOOKING AT HOW THE BLACK BODY HAS BEEN IN PERPETUAL FLIGHT SINCE IT WAS GRAUT FROM AFRICA, LOOKING AT HOW THAT FLIGHT HAS FORCED THE MIGRATION OF BODIES LOOKING FOR AND SEARCHING FOR THE ESSENCE OF HOME.

WHAT DOES HOME LOOK LIKE?

WHAT DO WE LONG FOR AS HUMAN BEINGS IS THE VIBRATION OF THAT SAFE SPACE THAT WE CAN LET OUR EXHALE THE BEST AS THE CEO OF NATIONAL BLACK DATA WOULD SAY, AND I THINK THAT THE FILM IS REALLY HELPING US TO LOOK AT AND ANNOTATE HOW THAT OPPRESSIVE SYSTEM GENERATED THE OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO FIND RECLAMATION ALSO LEADING INTO THREE PARTS.

THE FIRST PART WAS THE BLOCK AND HOW THE BLACK BODY WAS THE OBJECT AND THE OBJECTIVITY OF THE BODY.

HOW DID IT LOOK LIKE, HOW WAS IT BROKEN UP AND HOW WAS IT FORMULATED AND THE NEXT CHAPTER IS THE FUGITIVE.

THE BLACK BODY SEARCHING FOR THAT FREEDOM AND SEARCHING FOR THAT PLACE OF REFUGE AND HOW IN THE NEWSPAPERS WE STARTED DOING FUGITIVE RESOURCES WHICH WOULD CREATE THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX.

A LOT OF THAT START FROM THE THE ZEITGEIST OF THE FUGITIVE NOTICE AND THE LAST PART IS THE SEARCH AND THOSE ARE REALLY WHERE YOU HAVE YOUR FIND YOUR FAMILY NOTICES.

DURING AND AFTER THE ABOLISHMENT OF SLAVERY, MANY CHURCHES HELPED BLACK PEOPLE FIND THEIR FAMILIES THROUGH PUBLISHING ADS IN NEWSPAPERS.

AND WHY I THINK THAT THIS SEARCH IS WHERE WE FIND RECLAMATION IS REALLY WHERE IF YOU LISTEN TO THEM, WHEN YOU LISTEN TO THAT CHAPTER, YOU ARE LISTENING TO FOLKS REALLY JUST SAYING I JUST WANT TO FIND MY LOVED ONE.

CAN YOU HELP ME?

I JUST WANT TO FIND, AND ALL YOU'LL HEAR OVER AND OVER AGAIN, DID YOU KNOW?

DO YOU KNOW THEM?

DO YOU KNOW THEM?

DO YOU KNOW THEM?

THEY'RE NOT TRYING TO ACCUSE ANYONE, AND THEY'RE NOT TRYING TO SAY WHAT HARM WAS DONE TO THOSE BODIES.

THEY'RE SAYING CAN YOU HELP ME FIND THE LAST VESTIGE OF WHAT I CONSIDER TO BE MY HOME, MY FAMILY AND MY -- MY NETWORK, AND I THINK THAT WHEN WE LOOK AT THE BODY OF WHAT -- OF WHAT SLAVERY HAD DONE AND WHEN WE LOOK AT THE BODY OF WHAT THE IMPACT OF WHAT SLAVERY HAD ACTUALLY INTERJECTED INTO THE BLACK COMMUNITY, I THINK THIS PIECE HELPS US TO REALLY SIT WITH THE VASTNESS OF IT IN A DENSE AMOUNT OF TIME THROUGH A LAYERING OF CACOPHONY AND SOMETHING THAT I HAD BEEN EXAMINING AS A TOOL TO ACTUALLY ENGAGE CREATIVE PLACE TAKING.

SO IT'S INTERESTING THAT WHEN YOU SAY SITTING WITH THE VASTNESS OF IT BECAUSE WHAT WE'VE ALSO SEEN VERY RECENTLY IN ADDITION TO MOVEMENTS AROUND ISSUES OF SOCIAL JUSTICE IS WE'VE ALSO SEEN A VERY FIERCE AND STIFF RESISTANCE TO EDUCATORS BEING ABLE TO TELL A MORE MULTI-LAYERED, MORE NUANCED AND MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEW VERSION OF AMERICAN HISTORY.

HOW DO YOU FEEL WORKS LIKE THIS FIT INTO A SITUATION OR A SORT OF EXPERIENCE WHERE THERE'S SO MUCH RESISTANCE TO TALKING ABOUT WHAT YOUR FILM HIGHLIGHTS?

ONE, LIKE, THE RESISTANCE IS A PART OF NOT GIVING PEOPLE THEIR WHOLENESS.

THE RESISTANCE IS NOT GIVING PEOPLE THE CHANCE TO FIND THEIR FULL HUMANITY, FROM MY VANTAGE POINT.

A PIECE LIKE THIS IS HELPING US TO ACTUALLY NAME WHERE THAT HUMANITY CAN ACTUALLY BE INTERJECTED.

I LIKE TO SAY IT'S BUILDING ON THE LEGACY AND THE WORK OF ALVIN AILEY AND THE BLOOD MEMORY AND UNEARTHING THE BLOOD MEMORY OF WHO LIVES IN OUR LINEAGE AND WHO LIVES IN OUR BLOOD LINE AND WHO WAS ONCE ON THE AUCTION BLOCK AND WHO WAS ONCE A FUGITIVE AND WHO WAS ONCE SEARCHING FOR THEIR FAMILY AND CAN OUR HISTORICAL LINEAGE COME TO THE FOREFRONT WHEN WE LISTEN TO THIS WORK AND CAN OUR HISTORICAL LINEAGE ALSO GRIEVE, REJOICE AND BE GRATEFUL AND SHOW US THAT THEY LOVED ON US AND THAT WE ARE THE LOVED ONES ON THEM WHEN WE LISTEN TO IT.

INTENTIONALLY, THE AUDIO SCORE OF WHO IS SPEAKING THOSE WORDS ARE FIVE BLACK IDENTIFIED BODIES AND INTENTIONALLY THE PERSON WHO IS EMBODYING THAT WORK AND THANK YOU TO RICKY TRIPP, OUR CHOREOGRAPHER AND THOMAS VERTISAN, OUR VIDEOGRAPHER AND WE PICKED A BLAM WOMAN, WANDA, TO ACTUALLY EMBODY THIS JOURNEY KNOWING THAT IT WAS SAID AND WE BELIEVE IT TO BE TRUE THATTY WOO ARE NOT FREE UNTIL THE BLACK WOMAN IS FREE AND WE ARE NOT FREE UNTIL THE BLACK TRANS WOMAN IS FREE UNTIL THEY KNOW THE LIBERATION THE PRECIPICE THAT THEY GET TO DEFINE THEIR CAREER AND THEIR LIFE BY.

I THINK NO ONE IN SOCIETIY IS FREE, SPECIALLY IN AMERICA BECAUSE OUR SOCIETY WAS BUILT OFF OF THE BACKS AND THE BRILLIANCE OF BLACK WOMANHOOD.

SO -- SO I -- I THINK THERE'S A RECLAMATION EVEN IN HOW THE CHOICES THAT WERE MADE CREATIVELY AND THE CHOICES THAT EXIST INSIDE THE WORK AND WHEN YOU LISTEN TO THE SONIC SCORE WHICH WAS DONE BY DEAR FRIEND CHAI AND HIS WIFE JOY, YOU'RE LISTENING TO TWO ARTISTS LISTENING TO WHAT THOSE FIVE COURAGEOUS BLACK ARTISTS VOCALLY SAID AND GIVE IT THE UNDERGIRDING AND GIVE IT A NUANCE AND LET US UNDERSTAND SOME OF THE TOOLS LIKE THE DOGS BARKING OR THE CHAINS THAT WERE DONE OR THE WATER THAT WE HEAR.

HOW ALL THESE TOOLS WERE UTILIZED NOT ONLY TO CAPTURE, TO RESTRAIN, BUT THERE WERE ALSO SOME TOOLS TO WOULD HELP TO LIBERATE AND TO FREE AND HOW DO WE LIVE IN THE CONFLUENCE OF ALL OF THAT, AND HOW DO WE LIVE IN THE CONFLUENCE OF IT EVEN NOW AND HOW DO WE ALLOW FOR OURSELVES TO BE PATIENT WITH PROGRESS, AND KNOWING THAT PROGRESS DOES TAKE TIME IN ORDER TO ACTUALLY SHOW UP IN THE EVERYDAY LIVES AND THAT MANY PEOPLE ARE FATIGUED BY IT AND THAT'S WHY THEY WANT TO SILENCE IT AND THEY WANT TO MOVE ON AND MOVE PAST LIKE IT NEVER EVEN HAPPENED AND THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS ONCE HISTORY HAS TOLD US AND TAUGHT US THAT IF WE DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO THE LESSONS THAT WE ARE TAUGHT, THAT WE DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO THE FACTS THAT ARE GIVEN TO US, WE THEN ARE BOUND TO REPEAT IT.

I THINK WHAT WAS INTERESTING AND VERY POWERFUL ABOUT 2020 IS THAT IT WAS A MARIAN ACT OF 1968 WHEN MLK WAS ASSASSINATED.

YOU HAD A GLOBAL -- YOU HAD A PANDEMIC HAPPENING THEN.

YOU HAD AN ECONOMIC CRISIS THEN.

YOU HAD AN ECONOMIC CRISIS THEN AND YOU HAD AN ECONOMIC CRISIS NOW AND YOU HAD A GLOBAL UPRISING BECAUSE OF THE ASSASSINATION AND THE GLOBAL UNRISING BECAUSE OF THE INHUMANE MURDER OF THE HUMAN BEING AND THE MIRRORING ASPECT IS SOMETHING THAT WE SHOULD NOT LISTEN TO AND WE SHOULD LISTEN TO SO DEEPLY AND ASK OURSELVES HOW ARE WE GOING TO EVOLVE PAST THIS MOMENT, AND I THINK POTENTIALLY A WORK LIKE THIS IS HELPING US HAVE A CONVERSATION AROUND EVOLUTION.

FINAL QUESTION, BUT WHEN YOU MENTIONED THE FACT THAT THIS COULD BE EXHAUSTING FOR SOME PEOPLE, THAT SEEMS TO BE ONE OF THE REASONS WHY PERHAPS PEOPLE MIGHT WANT TO TURN AWAY OR NOT FULLY ENGAGE.

SO FOR YOU, SPECIFICALLY, WHAT WAS IT LIKE PUTTING TOGETHER A PIECE LIKE THIS, GOING THROUGH ALL OF THOSE AUCTION BLOCKS AND THOSE RUNAWAY NOTICES AND THINK, THOSE HEARTBREAKING NOTICES OF NEWSPAPERS OF PEOPLE LOOKING FOR THEIR FAMILIES.

WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE?

IT WAS HEALING.

IT WAS HEALING.

FOR ME, PERSONALLY, IT WAS A DEEP SENSE OF HEALING.

I FOUND MYSELF IN THE MIDST OF CREATING THIS WORK MY GRANDMOTHER AND MY DAD BOTH WENT INTO ICU IN THE MIDST OF CREATING THIS WORK.

BOTH OF THEM ACTUALLY TRANSITIONED AND PASSED ON AND THEY BECAME PART OF MY ANCESTRAL POWER.

TO DO THIS WORK WAS A PART OF SAYING YES TO THE POWER THAT THEY GAVE ME AS A STEWARD AND AS A BEING AND AS A CHILD OF THEIRS IN MULTIPLE DIFFERENT WAYS AND TO END ON THE NOTE IN WHICH WE DID.

LIKE, I AM VERY MUCH -- I AM VERY MUCH -- IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME THAT WE NAME THE THING, THAT WE DON'T JUST NAME THE THING, WE FIGURE OUT HOW TO MOVE THROUGH IT, HOW TO HOLD IT, HOW TO RELEASE IT AND HOW TO GIVE IT NEW LIFE BECAUSE THE OPPORTUNITY OF WHAT THE THING IS, THIS THING CALLED SLAVERY IS AND THE THING THAT SLAVERY IS IMPACTING AS A RIPPLE EFFECT IS IT PROVIDES THE OPPORTUNITY FOR A GROUP OF BLACK WOMEN SCIENTISTS TO COME TOGETHER ON AMERICAN SHORES TO CREATE THE MATHEMATICS THAT WOULD ALLOW FOR US TO GO TO THE MOON.

CREATED THE MECHANISM FOR BLACK FOLKS TO CREATE A CULTURAL NUANCE CALLED THE CULTURE AND CREATED THE NUANCE FOR US TO FIGURE OUT WHAT SOUL FOOD LOOKED LIKE.

ALSO ALLOWED TO US TO HAVE A LIGHT BULB AND TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE A DRY-CLEANING AND TO HAVE A DRY-CLEANER AND TO DO A PRESSING ON OUR CLOTHES.

OUR RESILIENCE IS FOUND NOT IN OUR ABILITY TO RUNAWAY FROM THE TRUTH, BUT OUR RESILIENCE IS FOUND TO EMBRACE IT AND TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE THE VESSELS OF THE PRIVILEGE WHO GET TO BENEFIT FROM IT, AND IT'S WHEN WE IGNORE IT THAT WE ARE BOUND TO REPEAT IT.

WE DON'T ACTUALLY BUILD ON THE FUNDAMENTAL BLOCKS, THAT LEGACY, THAT LEGACY THAT WE ARE ACTUALLY BIRTHED INTO.

LISTEN, I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THE ENCORE OF THE FILM 'THE ROLL CALL.

THE ROOTS TO STRANGE FRUIT' WILL BE PRESENTED ON SUNDAY ON JUNE 19th ON ALL ARTS TV AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US AND SHARING THIS WONDERFUL FILM.

THANK YOU.

APPRECIATE IT.

♪♪ ♪♪

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO METRO FOCUS.

I'M JACK FORD.

THE NEW YORK CITY LANDMARK PRESERVATION COMMISSION HAS UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO DESIGNATE A SMALL BRICK BUILDING IN BROOKLYN AS A HISTORIC LANDMARK.

227 DUFF FIELD STREET WAS OWNED BY ABOLITIONIST COUPLE HARRIET AND THOMAS TRUESDALE.

THERE'S REASON TO BELIEVE ACCORDING TO ADVOCATES THAT THEIR HOME MAY HAVE WELL SERVED AS A TEMPORARY STOP FOR THOSE ESCAPING SLAVERY IN THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD.

THOUGH THE CITY CO-NAMED A SECTION OF THE STREET ABOLITIONIST PLACE IN 2007 THEY HAD RESISTED GIVING THE HOME LANDMARK STATUS UNTIL NOW.

JOINING ME NOW TO DISCUSS THE HISTORY OF THIS LOCATION AND ALSO THE SIGNIFICANCE OF ITS LANDMARK DESIGNATION IS HISTORIAN AND PRESERVATIONIST MICHAEL HENRY ADAMS.

MICHAEL, WELCOME TO YOU.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

GREAT FUN TO TALK WITH YOU THIS AFTERNOON.

WELL, I'M DELIGHTED TO CHAT WITH YOU.

LET'S START WITH THIS NOTION OF A DESIGNATION, LANDMARK STATUS, JUST WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

NEW YORK CITY HAS THE BEST PRESERVATION LAW IN THE NATION, AND ONE OF THE OLDEST.

IT MEANS THAT WITHOUT THERE BEING PROOF BY THE OWNER THAT THEY WOULD EXPERIENCE SOME HARDSHIP IF THEY MAKE CHANGES, ALTERATIONS OR DEMOLITION OF A BUILDING THAT THEY CANNOT DEMOLISH IT OR CHANGE IT WITHOUT GETTING APPROVAL OF THE CITY GOVERNMENT AND THAT JUST GOES SUCH A LONG WAY TOWARD HELPING US TO PRESERVES BUILDINGS THAT EXEMPLIFY IT.

HOW DOES IT COME TO BE THAT A LOCATION SUCH AS THIS IS ABLE TO ACHIEVE THAT DESIGNATION?

ORDINARILY IT'S PEOPLE IN A GIVEN NEIGHBORHOOD WHO FEEL THAT THERE'S SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT OR HISTORICAL OR OF AESTHETIC IMPORTANCE IN THEIR COMMUNITY SHOULD BE PROTECTED AND THEY PETITION THE LANDMARK PRESERVATION COMMITTEE AND THEY ASK FOR REQUEST FOR EVALUATION AND OFTENTIMES THEY GET A FORM LETTER BACK THAT EITHER SAYS THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST IN THE WORK OF THE LANDMARK COMMISSION.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE LPC IS THE SMALLEST AGENCY IN THE CITY WITH THE SMALLEST BUDGET AND THE COMMISSIONERS DON'T RECEIVE ANY PAY.

THEY'RE VOLUNTEERS UNLIKE THE MEMBERS OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION, AND SO THAT REALLY PRESCRIBES THE -- WHICH PEOPLE CAN ACTUALLY AFFORD TO VOLUNTEER ON THE COMMISSION.

SO IT'S NOT AS OPEN A PROCESS AS ONE WOULD LIKE TO HOPE AND IT WOULD BE GREAT TO HAVE OTHER JURISDICTIONS IF OTHER CITY COUNCILS AND IT GOES TO THE PROCESS.

A HEARING IS HELD AFTER THE BUILDING HAS BEEN CALENDARED AND AFTER THAT HEARING, USUALLY THE HEARING IS PRO FORMA AND IT BECOMES DESIGNATED AS A NEW YORK CITY LANDMARK.

TELL US ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THIS BUILDING THAT LED TO ITS DESIGNATION.

THIS BUILDING IS VERY SPECIAL AND IT FACED TREMENDOUS PROBLEMS IN PART BECAUSE THIS BUILDING WAS OWNED BY THE TRUESDALE FAMILY, AND MR. AND MRS.

TRUESDALE WERE PROMINENT ACTIVISTS IN THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD IN THE ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT AND THERE WERE NEIGHBORS IN A ROW THAT EXISTED TO THE WEST OF THEIR HOUSE, AND HOUSES THAT VERY MUCH ARE LIKE THIS HOUSE, A GROUP OF ROW HOUSES, AND WHEN PEOPLE FIRST PETITIONED THE CITY TO GET THE TRUESDALE HOUSE DESIGNATED AS A LANDMARK, THEY ALSO ASKED THAT THESE OTHER HOUSES BE PROTECTED AND THE CITY HAD A PLAN TO TAKE THEM ALL BY EMINENT DOMAIN AND DEMOLISH THEM TO CREATE A PARK AND PERSISTING TO TRY TO AT LEAST SAVE THIS ONE HOUSE.

WE FINALLY HAVE GOT THAT.

THIS ONE PARTICULAR HOUSE THAT'S BEEN PROTECTED, BUT THE OTHER HOUSES HAVE ALL BEEN DEMOLISHED IN A TIME PERIOD, AND, BUT THE COMMISSION INITIALLY SAID, AND A, IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO PROVE THAT THIS HOUSE HAD BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD.

WELL, THAT'S NOT ANYTHING STRANGE GIVEN THAT THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD WAS THE HIGHLY SECRETIVE OPERATION, MUCH LIKE, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE WHO RISKED THEIR LIVES TO HIDE JEWS DURING THE HOLOCAUST.

IT HAD BEEN PASSED IN 1850.

AND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN FINES COULD BE ISSUED TO YOU FOR HIDING FUGITIVE SLAVES.

AT A TIME WHEN THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS WERE SIGNIFICANT NUMBERS.

A CITY COMMISSIONER MIGHT MAKE $4,000 A YEAR AND A BANK COMMISSIONER MIGHT MAKE $5,000 A YEAR AND SO THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS WAS A LOT OF MONEY AND SO PEOPLE WERE TAKING A TREMENDOUS RISK, AND THIS HOUSE, THERE WERE NO FIRM DIARY ENTRIES OR LETTERS THAT SAID SOME SPECIFIC ACTIVITY OCCURRED HERE AND OF COURSE, IN THE TIME PEOPLE DIDN'T HAVE SIGNS THAT SAID THIS IS THE 227 DUFFFIELD STREET.

THIS IS THE BROOKLYN STOP OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD.

WE FORGET IT WAS ONE OF THE LARGEST CITIES IN THE COUNTRY AND THAT ITS PORT WAS HEAVILY INVOLVED WITH ACTIVITY DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO SLAVERY, AND EXPORTING AND IMPORTING THE GOODS OF THE SOUTH AND BRINGING COTTON TO THE NORTH TO BE SPUN INTO FABRIC IN NORTHERN MILLS AND THERE ACTIVITY WAS SO PROMINENT IN THE NEW YORK AREA THAT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE CIVIL WAR IN 1806 MAYOR FERNANDO WOOD OF NEW YORK SUGGESTED THAT NEW YORK SUCCEED FROM THE UNION SO THAT IT MIGHT TRADE LIKE A CITY STATE, LIKE THE 16th CENTURY WITH BOTH THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH AND NOT CURTAIL A BIG PART OF ITS BUSINESS.

I WAS SURPRISED -- I WAS SURPRISED TO LEARN AT ONE POINT WITH SOME RESEARCH I WAS DOING THAT ALBANY WAS ONE OF THE MAJOR SLAVE TRADING CENTERS IN THE COLONIES AND INDEED IT WAS BANNED AND UNDERSCORING YOUR POINT HERE.

LET ME JUMP IN FOR ONE SUCCESS, IF I CAN, AND ONCE AGAIN I'M TALKING TO MICHAEL HENRY, HISTORIAN.

THE COMMISSION SAID NO TO PROVIDING THIS HISTORIC DESIGNATION BETWEEN THIS PROPERTY.

WHAT CHANGED BETWEEN THEN AND NOW, DO YOU THINK?

WELL, THEY SAY ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL AND WHAT IS CONVERSELY TRUE, BUT EVERYTHING IS POLITICAL AND SO, MY HAVING A NEW ADMINISTRATION FROM THE BLOOMBERG ADMINISTRATION, BY HAVING THE FIRST LADY OF NEW YORK, CHARLENE McRAY AND BY HAVING OUR PUBLIC ADVOCATE AND OUR WONDERFUL SECRETARY OF STATE LETITIA JAMES -- I'M SORRY, LETITIA JAMES AND McRAY WERE BOTH INSTRUMENTAL IN CHANGING WHAT HAPPENED AT DUFFFIELD STREET AND WE ARE SO GRATEFUL FOR THEIR INTERVENTION BECAUSE THEY MADE ALL OF THE DIFFERENCE, I THINK.

THE ATTORNEY FOR THE OWNER AND THE PROPERTY, THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY INTENDED TO DEVELOP IT INTO A TEN-STORY APARTMENT BUILDING SAYING WE'LL INCLUDE A MUSEUM FOR BLACK HISTORY IN THAT DEVELOPMENT AND THE ATTORNEY HAS SAID THAT ESSENTIALLY HIS CLIENT WAS FINANCIALLY DEVASTATED BY THIS DECISION.

WHAT DO YOU SAY AND OTHER CRITICS HAVE SAID IS IT FAIR TO ESSENTIALLY LIMIT SOMEONE'S USE FOR THEIR PROPERTY BASED UPON A FINDING THAT IS, AT BEST, PROBABLE THAT THIS PROPERTY WAS USED.

WHAT'S THE SHORT ANSWER TO THAT CRITICISM?

THE SHORT ANSWER IS THERE IS A HARDSHIP PROVISION AND IF YOU'RE A BUSINESS, YOU CAN OPEN YOUR BOOKS AND PROVE THAT WITHOUT THE DEVELOPMENT THAT YOU INTEND TO DO OR THAT YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO SURVIVE, AND IF YOU CAN DO THAT, YOUR BUILDING CAN BE DEMOLISHED, BUT I CAN TELL YOU THAT SINCE I'VE LIVED IN NEW YORK IN 1985, THERE HAVE BEEN FEWER THAN A DOZEN PEOPLE WHO HAVE AVAILED THEMSELVES OF THE HARDSHIP PROVISION, SO IT'S JUST NOT A LEGITIMATE THING.

PEOPLE BUY PROPERTIES, OFTENTIMES TO SPECULATE THAT THEY CAN MAKE MORE MONEY THAN THE FUTURE THAT THEY'RE MAKING NOW AND WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THE GREAT HISTORY IN THIS PLACE, AND WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT A PLACE THAT WAS OWNED AND LIVED IN BY ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT ABOLITIONISTS OF HIS TIME, YOU DON'T IMAGINE THAT A PERSON LIKE THAT DID NOT AVAIL EVERY RESOURCE AT HIS -- AVAILABLE TO HIM.

RIGHT.

IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO UTILIZE HIS BUSINESS OF TRANSFER FORMER SLAVES TO FREEDOM, FROM CANADA.

RIGHT.

SO IT'S -- IT GOES WITHOUT QUESTION THAT, OF COURSE, SOMETHING THAT WAS UTILIZED TO BE USEFUL TO FREEING PEOPLE OCCURRED IN THIS HOUSE.

WE HAVE A LITTLE BIT LESS THAN TWO MINUTES LEFT.

LET ME ASK YOU TWO QUESTIONS.

FIRST, ARE THERE OTHER PARTICULAR SITES THAT YOU FEEL SHOULD BE GRANTED THIS DESIGNATION AND IS THE CITY DOING ENOUGH WITH REGARD TO THAT?

WELL, TWO THINGS.

THERE'S A HOUSE, 857 RIVERSIDE DRIVE AND IT IS JUST AS MAYOR TORRES BEING DESIGNATED AS THE CENTER OF THE ABOLITION MOVEMENT.

IT WAS BUILT BY A LEADING ABOLITIONIST NAMED DENNIS HARRIS.

HE DIDN'T LIVE THERE.

HE LIVED NEARBY OVER ACROSS THE STREET.

HE LOOKED DOWN AT HIS HOUSE WHICH WAS VACANT FOR TWO YEARS AND THEN HE SOLD IT TO HIS PARTNER, ANOTHER PROMINENT ABOLITIONIST NAMED JUDGE JOHN NEWHOUSE AND NEWHOUSE LIVED IN THE HOUSE FOR THE NEXT 50 YEARS.

AND SO THERE'S NO WAY THAT HE DID NOT UTILIZE THIS HOUSE SOMEHOW, SOME WAY FOR THIS NOBLE EFFORT HE WAS INVOLVED IN.

AND THE CITY, UNFORTUNATELY, THE MAYOR SAID RECENTLY THAT EVERY AGENCY IN THE CITY INCLUDING THE POLICE SUFFERED FROM SYSTEMIC RACISM AND HE WANTED TO IDENTIFY IT AND ROOT IT OUT AND THE WAY IT MUST BE ROOTED OUT IN TERMS OF LANDMARKING IS FOR COMMUNITIES OF COLOR TO BE GIVEN THE SAME NUMBERS OF LANDMARKS THAT EXIST IN PROSPEROUS WHITE NEIGHBORHOODS WHICH IS SIMPLY NOT THE CASE NOW.

IF YOU LOOK AT GREENWICH VILLAGE, TWO-THIRDS OF THE BUILDINGS ARE PROTECTED BY LANDMARKING AND ONLY SOMETHING LIKE 10% OF THE BUILDINGS ARE PROTECTED.

HOPEFULLY THIS MIGHT MOVE THAT CONVERSATION ALONG.

OUR THANKS AND THANK YOU FOR COMING ON AND HELPING US UNDERSTAND THIS PROCESS.

WE APPRECIATE IT.

WE WILL SEE YOU DOWN THE ROAD.

YOU BE WELL.

I AM SO GRATEFUL TO YOU.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

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