Celebrate African American History Month and the Elizabeth Blackwell Bicentennial and Join Us in Fighting to Protect This Critical History
This February is African American History Month, a time to highlight and celebrate the rich history of African American struggle, success, and life in our neighborhoods over the last four hundred years (the first non-Native American settlers of Greenwich Village and the East Village were, in fact, African Americans). It’s also the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of our heroines, Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in America and a pioneer who transformed the role of women in society and public health from right here in Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo.
We’re marking both these occasions with advocacy, education, and engagement. We’re fighting to preserve critical unprotected sites connected to African American history and to Elizabeth Blackwell. We’re rolling out new lectures, talks, and virtual walking tours to illuminate and celebrate this history. And we’re highlighting our vast online resources to help you explore and share more about the abundant African American history of our neighborhoods and the amazing life and work here of Elizabeth Blackwell.
ADVOCACY We’re engaged in a heated campaign to secure landmark protections for the area south of Union Square, an area which played an extraordinary role in African American civil rights and cultural history, and is also where Elizabeth Blackwell first lived and practiced medicine after she became a doctor, in a still-extant building at 80 University Place. We made some important progress last week when the city finally, after 2 ½ years, began the process of considering one of these buildings we’ve been fighting to protect for landmark designation – 70 Fifth Avenue, the former headquarters of the NAACP and The Crisis Magazine, a launching pad for the Harlem Renaissance. But there’s dozens more sites here connected to important moments, figures, and organizations in African American and civil rights history, including W.E.B. duBois, Paul Robeson, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and many more. And the Elizabeth Blackwell home, not to mention dozens of other sites connected to the Women’s movement and women’s suffrage, the LGBT rights movement, the Labor movement and other social justice movements, remain unprotected.