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  • Writer's pictureNia Clark

S4 E6 Weeksville (Brooklyn)

Updated: Sep 28, 2023



Weeksville native, Dr. Susan Smith McKinney, the state’s first African-American female doctor, and a revered abolitionist















The predominantly African American settlement of Weeksville was a beacon of hope at a time in pre-Civil War New York when Blacks had suffered major legislative and legal setbacks, including discriminatory voting laws that stripped most people of African descent of the right to vote. Weeksville was founded in the early 19th century by free African Americans. It provided African Americans and people of African descent, a place to live where they could enjoy community, relative freedom and safety, economic opportunity, a place to worship, where children could learn - and unlike many other places at the time - a place where people of African descent could dare to pursue lofty ideals of prosperity and happiness.Weeksville attracted people from both the North, South and even the Carribean. Guests include: Allen Hillery, a data scientist and lecturer at the The Macaulay Research Assistant Program at The City College of New York; Scott Ruff, Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at Pratt Institute; and Jeffrey Hogrefe, Associate Professor of Architecture, Humanities and Media Studies as well as Coordinator of the Architecture Writing Program.


And so Weeksville had become more and more the place at the time to move to, and to not only just survive...to thrive. You can have that home ownership, you can be around other people, other business-minded people...one of those enclaves, one of those places that people can begin to build a life. And when we all take a step back and realize there wasn't that much freedom for Black Americans or Black people to have that...and also to have that combination of ownership and affordable home ownership and even education...was also very central to the identity of the community." ~Allen Hillery

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Guests in this episode

Allen Hillery



Scott Ruff



Jeffrey Hogrefe


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