Black History in Greenwich Village: Session 2 – Arts, Culture, and Activism of Black Communities 1790 – 1870 

Session 2 of Village Preservation’s new series, Black History in Greenwich Village, will explore the political, social, and economic forces that enabled and ended the institution of slavery in New York City between 1790 and 1827 (the emancipation year for New York State.)

The civil rights movement began on plantations, has been fought since before the Civil War, and did not end when slavery was abolished. 

We’ll reflect on questions like “what is an artist?” and “what is an activist?” through the lens of the experience of Africans and Black Americans in Greenwich Village, New York City, and America. Art and activism are often intertwined and this is especially so in Greenwich Village. We’ll learn about the African Grove Theatre, a Black owned and operated theater on the corner of Bleecker and Mercer Streets that presented productions with a black cast. Co-founded by James Hewlett, who was also a principal actor, this theater and company was not the first attempt to create a Black theater within New York City at this time. However, based in Greenwich Village, Grove is remembered as the most financially successful. 

Art often has subcurrents of dissent and reflect current political movements. This session will tie together these historic fights for human rights and justice with the artistic practices of Africans and Black Americans in Greenwich Village and beyond.

Black History in Greenwich Village Series – Winter 2023

This four session series explores the history of the black presence in the Greenwich Village area of New York City from 1600-2020. Join Village Preservation as we outline the history of African presence in Lower Manhattan. 

The program begins with a conversation about the lives and experiences of people of African descent who were trafficked to New York City through the transatlantic slave trade from the 1620s to 1808. The series will discuss the children and descendants of the first Africans in America. These descendents owned property in Manhattan, built churches and schools, and created their own culture. Learn about Black Americans from our neighborhoods who fought in the Civil War, participated in the Underground Railroad, and were members of the abolitionist movement. 

As we move into the 19th century, we’ll share history, arts, culture, and activism of Black communities in New York City and Greenwich Village. Many critical threads of the movement for black civil rights in America over the last 175 years run through or have roots in Greenwich Village. This rich history and deep impact will be explored, and we’ll bring you through the 21st century. Discover the impact of Africans and Black Americans on the art, history, culture, and activism of Greenwich Village from 1600 to today. 

Each of these free sessions will be held via zoom and requires pre-registration. Check out the individual sessions for additional details about the content covered at each webinar. For this special series, we ask that registrants be present to participate. A recording of these sessions WILL NOT be shared with registrants nor the public after the session is held. 

Note: All Village Preservation programs are designed to explore preservation, history and culture in a safe and welcoming environment. We cultivate a community that celebrates diversity, includes all people, and respects the identities of all participants. We expect participants to be respectful and reflect these values in their participation. Anyone who threatens, intimidates, uses hateful language, or participates in harmful behavior may be asked to leave a program and/or not participate in future programming. 

Find additional details and register to for Sessions 1, 3, 4 visit these links:

Session 1

Session 3

Session 4

Monday, March 27, 2023
6:00 pm

Black History in Greenwich Village Series Winter 2023

Session 2: Monday, March 27, 2023

6:00pm ET


Zoom Webinar

Pre-Registration Required