Diocesan News

Only In Print: Brooklyn’s ‘Harshest Slave Code’ Rivaled the South

In 1895, American illustrator Howard Pyle created “Slave Auction, 1655” to depict how Africans were first bought and sold in New Amsterdam, which today is Manhattan. Many slaves like the man shown here were ferried across the East River to work farms on Long Island. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

This year, as the nation observes Juneteenth, many Brooklynites are surprised to learn their city’s harsh history of slavery

FLATLANDS — Growing up in an African-American family, Dr. Steven Craig Wilder was taught that his hometown, Brooklyn, had been a bastion of famous abolitionists. Based on what he learned in school, Wilder assumed slavery was largely a Southern institution, the opposite of what was believed about Northern states, including New York.

“But all the elements of that story are false,” Wilder says. “The truth is …”


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