A group of more than 60 high school students chanted, “Time to tell the truth, our local history, New York was a land of slavery!” and “Resist! Resist! Resist! Time to be free! Resist! Resist! Resist! No more slavery!” as they marched around New York City’s financial district. At each of 11 stops they hung up posters detailing New York City’s complicity with slavery and stories of heroic resistance and they handed out hundreds of fliers to tourists, workers, and students on school trips.
According to Shiyanne Moore, a senior at Law, Government and Community Service Magnet High School in Cambria Heights, Queens, and a trip organizer,
I learned the truth about our city’s past from this project. I also learned the more noise you make the more things can change. Permanent historical markers about slavery could inspire people to fight for change. I am proud that I was involved in helping to create the African American Slavery Trail.
Celeste Rimple wrote,
I never realized how many locations and businesses were directly connected to slavery and the slave trade. It is disappointing that there are no permanent markers in the downtown area. It is disrespectful to the people who were enslaved and the people who fought against slavery. My topic was the Amistad defense committee. They worked hard to end slavery but their office was destroyed by a pro-slavery mob right here in New York City.
This article by Alan J. Singer was published by Rethinking Schools in an edition of Rethinking Schools magazine, “Why We Banned Legos,” (Winter 2006). For more articles and lessons like “Reclaiming Hidden History: Students Create a Slavery Walking Tour in Manhattan,” subscribe to the Rethinking Schools magazine.