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  • Writer's pictureNia Clark

S4 E1 Part 2 - Blacks on Wall Street: How Black People Helped Build Wall Street and New York

Updated: Sep 28, 2023


George Downing and family circa 1890s (Museum of African American History)













An exploration of Black neighborhoods and enclaves in antebellum New York City during the 19th century. This episode illuminates: the origins of what would become Wall Street as a slave auction block; slavery's history in Manhattan beginning in 1636; how intertwined slavery was with New York's economy; the first free black community in Manhattan and how it evolved into one of the most notorious Black communities in Manhattan prior to the Civil War; and how free Blacks and enslaved Blacks co-existed in the same city. Guests include, Author, Historian and Northwestern University Professor, Leslie Harris.


And so, they set up the African free schools...And that became really the premier school of many of the New York Black abolitionists, early professionals. James McCune Smith, one of my favorite people, one of the first black doctors. Many people went to these schools and themselves became teachers, business people, all kinds of the professional class." ~Leslie Harris

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