civil rights- New York

Old Feb 24th, 2008, 04:20 AM
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civil rights- New York

On holiday in New York in April. Teenage son is studying the American Civil Rights Movement as part of exams in May.Is there anywhere dedicated to this in New York that we could visit?
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 06:29 AM
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I don't know about NYC, but in Montgomery Alabama there is the most moving and wonderful civil rights monument designed by Maya Lin. He might look it up and include it in some way. It is at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 06:36 AM
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I might suggest he contact the NY Historical Society. They have an extensive collection of original historical documents and their collection is accesible to students.

Perhaps he can ask them if they are aware of any museums that specialize in this topic. Afterall, Harlem was the center of Black Culture for much of the 20th Century. I'm not aware of anything specific, but Malcolm X was killed in Harlem and perhaps that is the site of a museum.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 08:35 AM
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One of the important events of the NYC civil rights movement was the struggle for local control of schools in the Ocean Hill - Brownsville area.

There was a special on this on PBS recently - very interesting story.

I don't know of any center that you could visit, but you could use that info as a basis for further search.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 09:49 AM
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I am taking the broadest approach to civil rights.

The Draft Riots of 1863

Stonewall Bar Incident (gay rights)

Triiangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (union and immigrant rights)

Emma Goldman political and women's rights

Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the US in Brooklyn-reproductive rights

Union Square-there were many protests hence the name Union Square and the buildings taht surround ita were the headquarters for socialist and communist groups


Here is a book on the subject:

To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City By Martha Biondi

By Martha Biondi
Published 2006
Harvard University Press

African Americans/ Civil
rights/ New York (State
)/ New York/ History
/ 20th century

360 pages
ISBN 0674019822


The story of the civil rights movement typically begins with the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 and culminates with the 1965 voting rights struggle in Selma. But as Martha Biondi shows, a grassroots struggle for racial equality in the urban North began a full ten years before the rise of the movement in the South. This story is an essential first chapter, not only to the southern movement that followed, but to the riots that erupted in northern and western cities just as the civil rights movement was achieving major victories. Biondi tells the story of African Americans who mobilized to make the war against fascism a launching pad for a postwar struggle against white supremacy at home. Rather than seeking integration in the abstract, black New Yorkers demanded first-class citizenship--jobs for all, affordable housing, protection from police violence, access to higher education, and political representation. This powerful local push for economic and political equality met broad resistance, yet managed to win several landmark laws barring discrimination and segregation. To Stand and Fight demonstrates how black New Yorkers launched the modern civil rights struggle and left a rich legacy.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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This may be a bit out of left field, but the Museum of the City of New York had the "Baseball in the '50s" museum. Don't know if it's still there, but there was stuff on Jackie Robinson and the integration of baseball, if memory serves.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 10:35 AM
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Not dedicated to the civil rights movement but the Tenement Museum may be of interest www.tenement.org
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 10:37 AM
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Definitely go to the New York Historical Society. They had (but I believe now over) a very comprehensive two-part presentation on slavery and the aftermath with a focus on Black History in New York. I don;t know how much of this may be part of their permanent exhibits.

Suggest you also look at the web site of New York Magazine, which has events searchable by date and type.

Also - it depends on your definition of Civil Rights - you can also look for exhibits on the women's movement. (My grandmother was a suffragist, and I have photo of her at the front of a parade - walking up Fifth Avenue holding one end of a large Votes for Women banner.)
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 11:18 AM
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The Brooklyn Heights area has some interesting history of the abolitionist movement (again, not exactly civil rights)
From the WPA Guide to New York
The Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, Orange Street between Henry and Hicks Streets, was one of the most influential churches in America during the period (1847-87) when its minister was the eloquent Henry Ward Beecher (1813-87). ( As a center of Abolitionist sentiment, its pulpit was occupied by such anti-slavery agitators as Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Charles Sumner. Charles Dickens spoke here on the occasion of his second visit to America in 1867.

Plymouth Church was established in 1846 by a group from the mother Church of the Pilgrims, Remsen and Henry Streets, headed by Henry C. Bowen, founder of the Independent. In 1934 Plymouth merged with the parent congregation, and both now constitute the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims.

Henry Ward Beecher rose to a position of undisputed leadership among the clergymen of his time by virtue of his passionate oratory, his uncompromising vigor, and a striking flair for the dramatic. On assuming his pastoral duties at Plymouth Church he at once stated his intention of dealing with the living issues of the day--slavery, war, temperance, and general reform.

One Sunday Beecher astounded his congregation by putting up for sale a mulatto slave girl called "Pinkie." Mimicking a slave auctioneer, he roused his listeners to a fury of compassionate indignation, obtained the money to purchase the girl's freedom, and caught the attention of the entire nation. The girl, Mrs. James Hunt, returned in 1927 to speak from the same platform on which she had been sold.

During the Civil War entire Union regiments on their way to the battlefront paused for services in Plymouth Church. In 1863 Beecher visited England on a speaking tour, and was successful in helping to stem the rising tide of English sympathy for the Confederacy. At the close of the war he was chosen by President Lincoln to deliver the ore oration at the raising of the flag at Fort Sumter, April 14, 1865.

Beecher was also active in the woman's suffrage movement and was the founder and editor of several periodicals. From 1861 to 1863 he edited the Independent; in 1870 he started the Christian Union and later the Outlook.

The church structure, erected 1849, was designed by J. C. Wells, an English architect. It is in the New England meetinghouse style, a large, severely plain building of dark red brick, without tower, steeple, or other external ornament. The interior consists of a simple rectangular auditorium with plain white walls and woodwork. The balcony is carried on slender cast iron columns, and the clear eighty-foot span of the piling gives an impression of spaciousness. Nineteen memorial windows, designed by Frederick S. Lamb to represent the History of Puritanism and Its Influence Upon the Institutions and People of the Republic, modify somewhat the severity of the interior.

A gallery or arcade at the rear joins the church proper with the Plymouth Institute, built in 1913 by John Arbuckle, Brooklyn coffee merchant. The institute contains a gymnasium and recreational facilities, and serves the church as a parish house. In Memorial Park, the area between the church and the institute, is a bronze statue of Beecher by Gutzon Borglum, erected in 1914.
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