NEW YORK, January 27, 2009 – This month America celebrated a famous first in the history of African-American’s as Barack Obama was sworn in as our nation’s 44th President. Over the course of our nation’s history, breakthroughs made by African-Americans have helped to bring change, serving as a model of promise and hope for all Americans. New York State holds its own place in that rich history.
“It was a triumphant moment for this country on January 20 when we witnessed history as Barack Obama took the oath of office. During Black History Month we celebrate the lives of those African-Americans who helped pave the way for our country’s first black president,” said Governor Paterson. “Black History month is a time to reflect on our past and demonstrate how all people, regardless of race, contribute to our culture. I encourage all New Yorkers and tourists to take advantage of the tours of historic sites, special exhibits, lectures and seminars offered throughout New York during the month of February.”
New York State (www.iloveny.com) was at the forefront of the Underground Railroad movement and its prime location and politics made it a destination of choice for many Africans fleeing slavery along the eastern seaboard. Today, nearly 200 years later, tours of historic sites, special exhibits, lectures and seminars will be offered throughout the Empire State to help provide a better understanding of this crucial period in history during February’s Black History Month, including:
Underground Railroad Heritage Trail Highlights (more than 35 sites available statewide)
Harriet Tubman Home, Auburn, NY
In 1820, Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery and through the use of the Underground Railroad, made 19 trips south to rescue slaves. After leading over 300 slaves to freedom, Tubman started the Harriet Tubman Home for aged blacks. Today, as a meeting place for youth conferences and a cultural enrichment center, the Harriet Tubman Home proudly fulfills Tubman’s dream of serving the black community and has been a registered National Historic Landmark since 1975. Hours of operation are Tuesday – Friday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information call (315) 252-2081 or visit www.harriethouse.org.
National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, Peterboro, NY
The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum is located in the building where the New York State Anti-slavery Society convened for its inaugural meeting October 22, 1835. The Hall of Fame honors antislavery abolitionists, their work to end slavery and the legacy of that struggle. Visitations to the site are by appointment only. For more information call (315) 684-3262 or visit www.abolitionhof.org.
Hendrick I. Lott House, Brooklyn, NY
Built in 1792, the Lott House originally housed slaves who were freed in 1805, two years before the U.S. Constitution banned the importation of human beings. The Lott House was one of a series of homes and churches that provided a connecting point for slaves seeking a route to Long Island. This area was fairly isolated and populated heavily by Dutch Quakers and those sympathetic to the plight of escapes. For more information visit www.lotthouse.org.
Lectures and Exhibits
Castellani Art Museum, Niagara, NY
The permanent gallery installation, Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad in Greater Niagara tells the story of The Buffalo Niagara Region’s role in the Underground Railroad anti-slavery movement through historic photographs, artifacts, stories, video stations and artwork. Hours of operation are Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. For more information call (716) 286-8200 or visit www.freedomcrossingniagara.com.
The Chemung Valley History Museum, Elmira, NY
The Chemung Valley History Museum will host a Black History lecture series throughout the month of February. Lectures will include:
Thursday, February 5 at 7:00 PM: Free Black Communities in the Antebellum North – Myra B. Young Armstead, professor of history at Bard College, will discuss the development of free black communities that resulted from the northern emancipation process in the early 1800s. This is a Speakers in the Humanities event sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities.
Thursday, February 12 at 7:00 PM: Mark Twain and the Problems of Race – Mark Twain grew up in a family that owned slaves and in a community that supported slavery. As an adult writer, however, he moved a far distance away from the ideology of slavery. Michael Kiskis, professor at Elmira College, will discuss race and its influence on the iconic writer. For more information call (607) 734-4167 or visit www.chemungvalleymuseum.org
8th Annual Underground Railroad History Conference, Schenectady, NY
On February 27 and 28 exhibits, speakers and workshops will deliver stories about the Underground Railroad in the Capital Region of Upstate New York and in upstate eastern New York. The weekend will focus on the story of the African Americans - both abolitionists and those escaping from slavery. The weekend includes:
Friday, February 27: Dinner and Dr. Norm Dann, author of When We Get to Heaven: Runaway Slaves on the Road to Peterboro and Professor Emeritus, Morrisville State College will discuss “The Underground Railroad, Its Legacies, and Our Communities.”
Saturday, February 28: Guests can experience workshops and exhibits explaining how the Underground Railroad shapes history and identity, locally and nationally and how its memory has been constructed and reconstructed. For more information visit www.ugrworkshop.com.
About New York State
New York State features 11 beautiful vacation regions. New York’s attractions span from landmarks such as Niagara Falls, to the wine trails of Hudson Valley and treasures like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Whether it’s wide-ranging outdoor activities for the whole family like fishing, hiking and boating, culinary wonders and farm-to-table fresh foods, or the rich history and culture of one of the 13 original colonies, New York State offers diverse activities for all travelers. For more information visit www.iloveny.com. Media can find press releases and more at thebeat.iloveny.com.
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Tel: (518) 292-5274
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