By Kevin Adu
Brooklyn, also know as the “Borough of Trees,” may be world famous for many things, including famous citizens like Spike Lee and Woody Allen, cultural and historical institutions like the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and our excellence when it comes to making pizza.
However, despite the positive acclaim Brooklyn generates from these qualities, many people do not know much about Brooklyn’s rich history, particularly its role in the fight for equality.
The Brooklyn Historical Society, located in Brooklyn Heights at 128 Pierrepont Street, will be displaying, from now until 2018, its newest major exhibition: Brooklyn Abolitionists/ In Pursuit of Freedom.
This extensive exhibition covers the history of slavery and abolition in New York from the end of the American Revolution to the end of the Civil War, displaying pictures, abolitionist newspapers, landscape drawings, letters, and short biographies of lesser known Brooklyn abolitionists.
Once you walk through the doors and take a sharp left, the first thing you will notice is the timeline of Brooklyn’s long fight for racial equality wrapped around the walls of the 2,000 square foot room. Along the wall you will also see segments of The Liberator, the abolitionist newspaper by William Lloyd Garrison, and drawings of the geographic layout of Williamsburg.
The most captivating part of this exhibition is the interactive elements in the center of the room. There are numerous “Activist Stations,” which consists of panels connected to strings and screens. The screens project information on various abolitionists and viewers pull on the strings to scroll down the screens to read more information.
Through this very creative presentation, visitors can read u
p on lesser known Brooklyn abolitionists, like John Jea, a former slave and author who showcased the atrocities of slavery in his autobiography, or James C.P. Pennington, another former slave, talented speaker, and minister who fervently voiced his outrage at the institution. At other panels, visitors can learn about many more abolitionists just like these two and the extraordinary changes that they made.
The Brooklyn Historical Society is a cultural institution dedicated to teaching its visitors about the rich 400-year history of Brooklyn. Along with Brooklyn Abolitionists, the museum is also showing exhibitions such as Emancipation Proclamation, which includes a rare copy of the historical document signed by Abraham Lincoln, and Documenting Sandy, a presentation of photographs capturing the devastation caused by the storm.