Spotlight on Weeksville Heritage Center by Shyda Hoque

Have you taken a tour of the Weeksville Heritage Center off of the A stop at Utica yet?  The center is celebrating 50 years and is one of the few remaining historic sites of pre-Civil War African American communities. James Weeks, along with several other African American investors, purchased land in response to the 1826 New York State Constitutional Convention changing the law for African American men to vote BUT only if they owned property that was more than $250.00!  Weeksville quickly became a community of churches, schools, and was an active part of the abolitionist movement and was home to one of the first African- American newspapers the Freedman’s Torchlight.  Bklyner wrote a great piece on the center a few months ago with more details about this historic community.

As urban renewal spread through NYC in the late 60’s a grassroots preservation group began led by James Hurley, Dewey Harley, Dolores McCullough, and Patricia Johnson.  Along with Joan Maynard, an artist and activist who later preserved the Hunterfly Road Houses, they worked hard to restore these buildings and the Heritage center was born. The community of Weeksville lasted for nearly a century and the museum is celebrating it’s 50th year! To learn more about this museum and find out  about events and exhibitions happening this month click here.

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