The Legacy Project
The Legacy Project is a continuum of James Weeks’ self-determining actions. Upon the purchasing of land in 1838, Weeks, a freedman, initiated what became the second largest known independent Black community in pre-Civil War America. A deeply engaged community, Weeksville residents established their own school, orphanage, cemetery, old age home, benevolent society, one of the rest African- American newspapers, and even their own churches.
All but forgotten until the late 1960’s, urbanization threatened to erase the physical memory by destroying the few remaining homes. In 1968, a small group of community activists rediscovered these four dilapidated houses that were rare residential remnants of historic Weeksville. is rediscovery led to the restoration of the Hunterfly Road Houses, and the formalization of the Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History, later known as Weeksville Heritage Center.
WHC is a living monument to African American freedom and self-determination. Weeksville advances its mission through history, preservation, visual and performing arts, ecology, and the built environment.
The Legacy Project will continue this evolution through activating WHC’s archives, building annual public programs, public training workshops, and an internship program for students of color. We see the participation of our larger community as vital to honoring the spirit of James Weeks’ initial actions and sustaining WHC’s mission. We invite you to join in the heralding of our legacy together.
This project is supported by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, The Mellon Foundation, and the Kenan Charitable Trust.
COMMUNITY CURATING: STITCHING TOGETHER THE HISTORY OF A PEOPLE
Inspired by our current Fashioning the Women of Weeksville exhibition, The Legacy Project presents "Community Curating: Stitching Together the History of a People".
This conference will include artists, writers, academics, curators, and other members of the Weeksville community who have devoted themselves to understanding fashion in black communities.
12pm – 1pm: Guided Tour of the historic Hunterfly Road Houses
1pm – 2pm: Conversation: Fashion in the Family Archive
A conversation around memory, fashion, preservation, visibility, and family photos as an inspiration for academic production and pedagogy.
2pm – 3pm: A Conversation with the Curators
Go behind-the-scenes and learn the backstory behind the “Fashion the Women of Weeksville: 1890-1950” led by the exhibit’s curators
3pm – 4pm: Lunch and Learn
Workshop: “Adorning the Crown”, Learn how to replicate headwraps used by enslaved women in the American South and the Caribbean.
4pm – 5pm Panel: Historical Memory and Fashion at Weeksville
This panel explores the work of filmmakers, conservators, artists and designers and how their current work has been inspired by the long history of sartorial ingenuity in the African Diaspora.
5pm - 6pm: Conversation: Elizabeth Way in conversation with Audrey Smaltz
Fashion curator Elizabeth Way will have a conversation with fashion industry veteran Audrey Smaltz. Way will explore Smaltz’s career trajectory from model, fashion commentator, buyer, entrepreneur, and fashion industry icon. Keeping the conference’s theme of community curating in mind, Way and Smaltz worked together in the curation of Black Designers Symposium at the FIT Museum, from which the collection of Smaltz was a major contributor.
Whether in celebration, mourning, or fellowship, gathering to break bread has always been integral to the Black experience. The Legacy Project continues with "Black Foodways", a daylong community gathering that will include conversations, a workshop, and the collection of oral histories connecting land, food, healing, and liberation.
11:00AM-12:30PM: Public Oral History
Much of black social history has been lost because of the preservation attitudes of academics in the past. During this public oral history, we will take on the role of modern griots and help save the memories of urban farming in Central Brooklyn. Obden Mondésir (WHC Oral History Project Manager) and Afia Bediako (Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation) will be in discussion with participating interviewees Barbara Adamson and Kelebohile Nkhereanye from East New York Farms.
12:45PM-2:00PM: Returning to Ancestral Foods for Better Health
Many food staples in the Black community are foods our ancestors historically ate. Things like okra and black eyed peas come directly from Africa. If we return to eating more foods our ancestors ate, in the way they prepared them, we have a greater chance for better health and thus a better life. In this workshop lead by Sade Anderson, we'll revisit these ancient traditions through Oldways: A Taste of African Heritage Cooking Program.
*Space is limited, so separate RSVP is required for this workshop. For event attendees unable to participate, please visit our Fashioning the Women of Weeksville: 1890-1950 exhibit in the gallery during this time.
2:00PM-3:45PM: Lunch and Discussion
We'll enjoy a plant-based culinary celebration prepared by Chef Jeneé Grannum: a delicious lunch featuring recipes and ingredients highlighting the rich culinary history of the African diaspora. Then Mark Winston Griffith (Brooklyn Movement Center) will lead us in a discussion about the legacy of co-operatives and food sovereignty in Central Brooklyn.
4:00PM-5:30PM: Healing Creatively Through Land
Through the lens of her combined local, regional and national land work, Kirtrina Baxter (Garden Justice Legal Initiative) will present how, historically and presently Black people have intuitively used land in creative ways for resistance, and resilience, healing a pathway toward liberation.
sustainability of black archives
On October 7th, we are rounding up the entire Weeksville Heritage Center family to discuss our history and archival collections. The workshops throughout the day will be great guides to help you develop a personal archiving practice to keep the memories of self.
Homegrown participants include Jennifer Scott (former WHC’s Vice Director and Director of Research), Megan Goins-Diouf (former Resource Center Manager), current WHC staff members, and The Legacy Project interns.