Mark Juneteenth By Learning More About Abolition History in Our Neighborhoods

Sarah Smith Garnet, seated, with her family (left); Abyssinian Baptist Church at 166 Waverly Place

Juneteenth is this Sunday, and commemorates the day in 1865 when freedom was announced for the last enslaved people in the Confederacy. Now a state and federal holiday, it’s a time to look back on our country’s history of slavery, to honor those who labored for slavery’s abolition, and to recognize African American history, culture, and struggle.

Our neighborhoods were home to a remarkable array of people and institutions that played a prominent role in the battle to end slavery, as well as those who owned enslaved people and supported the institution. In honor of Juneteenth, we are looking back at some of the inspiring and transformative abolitionists who called our neighborhoods home, from the African American leaders and institutions located here in what was the largest black community in New York City, to the white opponents of slavery who advocated everything from peaceful to violent means to end the practice.

From left: Henry Highland Garnet, John Brown, Edmonia Lewis, and 814 Broadway

Did you know that the first non–Native American settlers of our neighborhoods were Black — enslaved people who advocated for their freedom in New Amsterdam? 

June 17, 2022