Brooklyn Resists, Act One: Suffrage, Abolition, and the Untold Stories of Black Women Leaders
In the summer of 2020 protesters flooded the streets of Brooklyn in response to the brutal police killing of George Floyd, led by local activists who organized nightly marches throughout the borough. These leaders follow in the footsteps of centuries of Black activists in Brooklyn.
This three-part series looks at the long history of Black-led protest in Brooklyn. Act One shines a spotlight on both well-known and lesser known Black women leaders who fought for gender and racial equity during the decades surrounding the Civil War. From suffragists and abolitionists Maritcha Reymond Lyons, Elizabeth A. Gloucester, Susan Smith McKinney Steward, and Sarah Garnet, to anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells, experts and historians highlight the often hidden stories of women who effected change. Jami Floyd, Senior Editor for Race & Justice Unit at New York Public Radio and the Legal Editor in the WNYC Newsroom, moderates this conversation with historian Prithi Kanakamedala, curator of the exhibition Brooklyn Abolitionists: In Pursuit of Freedom at the former Brooklyn Historical Society, Michelle Duster, Ida B. Wells’ great-granddaughter and author of the new book Ida B. The Queen, and others.
Jami Floyd is the Senior Editor for the Race & Justice Unit at New York Public Radio. She is also the Legal Editor in the WNYC Newsroom. In a journalism career that spans two decades, Jami has worked on everything from breaking news, to exclusives, to long-form investigations. Jami has had the opportunity to interview countless news makers, including Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, cited by The New York Times for her barrage of “hard-hitting” questions. Jami still considers her interview with Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers to be her most meaningful. Until September 2020, she served as the weekday host of All Things Considered.
Prithi Kanakamedala is an Associate Professor in the History Department at Bronx Community College of the City University of New York where she teaches U.S. History, African-American History, and the History of New York City. Her research looks at community-building, race, and citizenship in Brooklyn and New York’s 19th-century free Black communities. As a public historian she regularly gives talks and lectures and has worked with a range of cultural organizations including Danspace Project Inc, Place Matters/ City Lore, Brooklyn Historical Society (now Center for Brooklyn History at Brooklyn Public Library) where she curated the exhibition Brooklyn Abolitionists: In Pursuit of Freedom, and Weeksville Heritage Center. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Sussex and is originally from Liverpool, England.
Michelle Duster is Ida B. Wells’ great granddaughter and the author of Ida B. The Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells. She is a writer, speaker, professor, and champion of racial and gender equity. In the last dozen years, she has written, edited, or contributed to over a dozen books. She co-wrote the popular children’s history book, Tate and His Historic Dream; coedited Impact: Personal Portraits of Activism and Michelle Obama’s Impact on African American Women and Girls; and edited two books that include the writings of her great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells. She has written articles for Essence, Refinery29, HuffPo, Teen Vogue, Glamour, People and The North Star.
This event series is sponsored by the Center for Brooklyn History, New York University’s 370J Project, NYU’s Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation (OGI), The Center for Black Visual Culture, and the Institute for Public Knowledge.
Photo Credit: Deborah Willis