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September Weeksville Weekends | Race and Reproduction: Healing, Justice and History

  • Weeksville Heritage Center 158 Buffalo Avenue Brooklyn, NY, 11213 United States (map)

In 1847 Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first African American woman to graduate from medical school in New York, was born free in New York to a prominent African American landowning family in Weeksville. That same year, James Marion Sims, known as “the father of modern gynecology”, was conducting gynecological research on enslaved African American women in Alabama.

Please join the Weeksville Heritage Center on September 8th, for a day of programming that focuses reproductive and birth justice as a response to systemic disparity in the experience of childbirth and high rates of maternal infant mortality among black women.

With the 2017 removal of the statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims from Central Park and its interment at the Green Wood Cemetery; and the growing disparity in maternal death rates among black women in the United States, the Weeksville Heritage Center invites you take part in a two part event that assembles a number of distinguished scholars, writers, journalists  and artists for a series of conversations and workshops exploring the reverberations of these issues in American politics, intellectual life, and the arts.


12:00 - 1:30

The day begins with a moderated conversation among practitioners, healers, advocates, journalists and scholars within the field of maternal-infant health. What are the histories that shape the experience of reproduction and birth for women of color? How do racism and inequality in our medical systems impact the experience of and outcomes in childbirth? How can we challenge systemic problems and what can we do to take control of our health care for ourselves and our families?

Interdisciplinary artist, healer, activist and founder of Colored Girls Hustle, Taja Lindley will moderate a discussion with Chanel L. Porchia-Albert, founder of Ancient Song Doula Services, a reproductive health organization focused on providing resources and full spectrum doula services to women of color and marginalized communities; Professor Lynn Roberts, whose edited anthology, Radical Reproductive Justice: Foundations, Theory, Practice, Critique, was published by Feminist Press in 2017; and Professor Linda Villarosa, who recently wrote a cover story for New York Times Magazine on the crisis in maternal infant mortality for women of color: “Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies are in a Life-or-Death Crisis”.

2:00 - 3:00

 liberation-based therapist, yoga instructor, doula, healing justice practitioner, and community activist, will lead a workshop on communal healing and self-care through written and spoken forms of expression, documentation, testimony, and memory.

3:00 - 4:00

Sankofa Ra, practitioner of Kheth Hemet Birthing Center will lead a special her Womb Seed Closure workshop for women seeking to heal after surviving child loss, abortion, miscarriage and stillbirth. This safe, intimate, healing session will give women space to verbalize and share their experiences. Mothers will give names to their children, create an altar for them and establish a healing, peaceful connection for themselves and their families. Mamas, please bring an item, poem or something that reminds her of her baby to the event. Fathers are warmly welcomed and encouraged to attend.

Please note, there will be no tours of the Historic Hunterfly Road Houses