In May or June 1613, Jan Rodrigues, a free sailor from Hispaniola (in what is today the Dominican Republic), who worked for a Dutch fur trading company, was left on Manhattan Island to trade with Native Americans. A black man, he was the first non-Native American to settle on the island. Starting with Rodrigues’ arrival, Black New Yorkers, an exploration of 400 years of African-American history in New York, tells the story of sixteen generations of New Yorkers in essays, prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, tables, and newspapers.
The digital exhibition is organized around five themes and periods: Slavery and Freedom (1613-1865); Migrations and New Neighborhoods (1866-1915); War and Renaissance (1916-1939); WWII, Housing and Politics (1940-1959); Civil Rights, Black Power and Beyond (1960-2010). Abundantly illustrated, Black New Yorkers also presents original maps, a run of Marcus Garvey’s newspaper The Negro World and “Negroes of New York” (accessible online for the first time ever). Highlighting forty-one studies of Black New Yorkers from 1626 to the 1930s, “Negroes of New York” was commissioned by the Works Progress Administration between 1936 and 1941.