Welcome to Weeksville: One of America’s first free-black communities

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WEEKSVILLE, Brooklyn — Brooklyn was once known as the “slave-holding capital” of New York State.

When New York outlawed slavery, many remained, creating a new neighborhood: Weeksville. It became one of the first free-black communities in the nation.

The Weeksville Heritage Center is on the National Landmark Registry, but it almost disappeared. In 1968, to ensure that Weeksville remained a living testament, the Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History was created.

Obden Mondesir, oral history manager at the center, said the purpose of the center was to preserve the memories of the community, some of which was built in the mid-1800s.

At the height of the Civil War, draft riots in lower Manhattan caused a surge of African Americans to move to Weeksville.

The center continues to host virtual tours and workshops. The Legacy Project, which has been running for three years, offers training in genealogy and archives.

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