New campaign targets NYC’s ‘shocking’ legacy of slavery

A group of anti-racist activists in the Big Apple are plastering signs up on some city streets and storefronts that were named after prominent New York slave owners.

The group, which consists of artists and educators, has distributed about 1,000 stickers in public places as a part of their “Slavers of New York” educational campaign.

In Brooklyn, lampposts on Nostrand Ave. have been emblazoned with signs reading “John Van Nostrand was a slave owner.”

Nostrand was a Dutch settler whose family owned approximately 43 slaves from 1790 to 1820.

Cortelyou Road in Brooklyn is another New York City street named after a slave owner, Maria Robles, a campaign co-founder said.

slave owner history
A Black-owned, Brooklyn-based sticker shop Comik Ink produces the stickers that adorn street signs named after slave owners.
Reuters

“It was named for the Cortelyou family,” Robles told Reuters. “As our sticker states, the Cortelyou family were slave owners, enslaving approximately fifty-five people collectively between the years of eighteen hundred and eighteen ten, according to census records.”

The group plans to expand the campaign to all five boroughs.

So far, the reaction to “Slavers of New York” has been mostly “shock” and “repulsion” — as many New Yorkers had no idea they have been walking down streets named after men with dark histories for years.

slave owner campaign
The group plans to expand the campaign to all five boroughs in NYC.
Reuters

“A lot of these streets run through black and brown neighborhoods and that the people walking these neighborhoods are still saying a slave owner’s name, and it’s unbeknownst to them,” Elsa Eli Waithe, a co-founder of the campaign, told Reuters.

“Once I typically give people the information about the street that they did not know, there’s an immediate reaction — typically of surprise, shock, repulsion.”

Waithe added, “I think if more people knew what their street was named for, or who it was named for, we can then foster another conversation about what it looks like to name and claim your neighborhood.”

slave-owner campaign
The group has distributed about 1,000 stickers in public places as a part of their “Slavers of New York” educational campaign.
Reuters

Black-owned, Brooklyn-based sticker shop Comik Ink produces the stickers, organizers said.

Metro | New York Post

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