OBeyond the shadow of violence and perpetration
The story of African Americans’ long struggle to both attain their individual rights and exercise their collective citizenship is well documented in the North. By the late 19th century, black Americans, intent upon improving the educational status of their race, organized schools, social groups, and literary associations--many of which were the antecedents of the avocation of abolitionist groups, whom after petitioning and organizing emigration back to Africa movements, sanctioned the full participation of blacks in the US, beyond the philosophical fissures of racial discrimination--celebrated every possible reversal in their status, decades before the onset of the Civil War and issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation (in the case of New York State).
Why the 5th of July? The 5th of July is significant because it offers an alternate and compelling exercise of a willful demonstration of safety and security by African Americans, while in observation of the celebration of citizenship.
By extension, in the failed acknowledgment of slavery's abolition nationally, and on the 5th of July, Weeksville's Resource Center for Self-Determination & Freedom provides complementing evidence, via digital scholarship (and one monograph), of why this celebration was established and is remembered, today:
(Updated 7/11/2015; 9/3/2015)
In it is an address delivered on the celebration of the abolition of slavery, July 5, 1827, by Nathaniel Paul, Pastor of The First Baptist Society in the City of Albany; under the leadership of Gov. Daniel D. Tompkins and Lt. Gov. John Tayler, the address also lists the names of the Senators and Members of the Assembly who voted for the Law in 1817.
Curators of New York Historical Society's exhibition, Slavery in New York, explore the idea of how, through a gathering of a Ladies' Antislavery Society (to say the least), Frederick Douglass imagined a unified celebration, one that would be made available to all Americans.
A long-time friend of Weeksville, William Loren Katz centers the July 5th holiday to New York, a state not often identified to have played a role in propagation of slavery.
For even further evidence of New York City's role in the market of the enslaved, including a recent markation in Lower Manhattan. Nazaryan doesn't exactly hit the mark on Weeksville's role in the story of abolition in New York (or the demographic of our visitorship); Sylviane Diouf, of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture - crafts a compelling landscape of this historic narrative.
Additional cultural conventions of the July 4th holiday that also reject portions of the holiday's proscriptions.
For a digital map of the abolition slavery, please consult this dynamic project, host in part by the University of Richmond's Digital Scholarship Laboratory. Map options include: 'emancipation events, emancipation events heat-map, union army locations, and the legality of slavery overlay.': http://dsl.richmond.edu/emancipation/
Find more information on Rev. Nathaniel Paul and his 5th of July address, here: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/paul-nathaniel-1793-1839; http://www.blackpast.org/1827-rev-nathaniel-paul-hails-end-slavery-new-york
For more information on the Abolition of Slavery, and to read orations on the topic of domestic abolition, visit the Schomburg's portal (link below). Please note the Schomburg's reference to Mr. William Hamilton, the first President of the New York African Marine Society, who delivered a 4th of July commemoration to youth in 1827 at the African Zion Church in New York, here: http://abolition.nypl.org/essays/celebrations/7/; more on Hamilton available in Dorothy Porter's Early Black Writing, 1760-1837 and Carla L. Peterson's Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City.
Or read the original speech here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2927t.html
Compiled by: Megan Goins Diouf, Manager & Reference Archivist
With special thanks to LaShaya Howie for her editorial support.
Photo: Emancipation Day, Richmond, Va. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.