Session 3: Focus on New York, Short Papers , , , , , ,

Slavery in the Bronx: Mapping, Advocacy, and Genealogy in a Digital Public History Project

Adam Arenson
Manhattan College

This short paper draws on the experience of the community-engaged learning course on Slavery in the Bronx at Manhattan College. This digital public history course began by learning about the unmarked slave burial grounds in both Drake Park, in Hunts Point, and in Van Cortlandt Park, a former wheat plantation, and the work done to date by fourth-grade students, their teachers, Van Cortlandt House Museum curators, and dedicated local historians. Manhattan College students worked to map the sites of slavery in today’s Bronx, and conducted genealogical research to find descendants of those once enslaved in the Bronx. This paper discusses their progress to date, plans for another version of the class this fall, the legacies of slavery that are often forgotten in northern states, the ongoing injustices facing residents of the Kingsbridge and Hunts Point neighborhoods, and the chance for these acts of memorialization to provide a foundation for critiquing injustice, then and now.