Black History Month exhibit documents slavery on Long Island

01/29/2011 9:11 AM |

Black History Month will be marked by a special exhibit and lecture presented by Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead.

The small exhibit, “Who Are Our Brethren: Documents of Slavery From the Archives of the Suffolk County Historical Society,” is on view through Feb. 28. It includes archival material documenting slaves’ births, ownership and freedom from the early 1700s to the 1800s. Guests can see a model replica of slave quarters, period slave dolls and a circa 1830 portrait (pictured) of “Tamer,” a free female slave who lived in St. James at the estate of her former owner. The artist was Sheppard Alonzo Mount.

According to “Slavery on Long Island” from the Hofstra University Library, in 1626 11 Africans were purchased in New Amsterdam, and by Revolutionary War times, there were more than 20,000 slaves in New York, including Long Island.

In conjunction with the exhibit, Dr. Sherrill Wilson will give a talk, “Celebrating Freedom,” at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5. The emancipation of African slaves in New York City began officially on July 4, 1827. The slide lecture focuses on the those who were freed, their culture and celebrations of emancipation that went on for more than 50 years, through the end of the Civil War.

Dr. Wilson, an urban anthropologist and ethnohistorian, is the author of “New York City’s African Slave Owners: A Social and Material Culture History. She teaches at Rockland Community College and Long Island University’s Collaborative Learning Center.

Lecture admission is free; registration is requested. Call 727-2881 or e-mail schsociety@optonline.net.

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