A Mighty River: 2009 Quadricentennial

A Mighty River: 2009 Quadricentennial

The African Diaspora and Economic Development Along the Hudson River

This year marks the quadricentennial anniversary of Henry Hudson’s first voyage on New York’s beautiful Hudson River.  This conference is the highlight of a collaborative effort with The CEJJES Institute, the African American Historical Society of Rockland, the Rockland African Diaspora Heritage Center and SUNY Rockland Community College, to both observe and commemorate the role of men and women of the African Diaspora in the economic development of the Hudson River Valley. 

Whether enslaved or free, peoples of color have always had a ubiquitous presence in the ever- changing economies of the Hudson Valley.  Negro workers in farming, blacksmithing and construction; fishermen who wintered over repairing their boats in Cold Spring Harbor; miners of silver in the Ramapo hills; smelters of iron in Piermont; cutters and harvesters of ice in Congers; makers of bricks in Haverstraw; and migrant farm workers producing fruits and vegetables, all contributed greatly to the development of life and industry in the river towns along the Hudson. This conference is important because while there is much to celebrate in the richness of the Hudson River and the industry of its people, the contributions of people of color have often been marginalized or simply untold.  Researching this facet of the river valley’s past has been both challenging and rewarding.  We have assembled a team of some of the finest anthropologists and historians in the area, many of whom specialize in the history of the Hudson River Valley.  Much of what they have uncovered and have to share is simply fascinating.

Our special guest speaker, Dr. A.J. Williams-Myers, professor of Black Studies at SUNY New Paltz will discuss the contributions of the enslaved African Diaspora in the region as they relate to colonial industrial development and the American Revolutionary War.  Dr. Williams –Myers will also explore the cultural development of the enslaved in the Hudson Valley as they adopted the cultural mores of the Europeans, while managing to retain their “Africanisms” and their unique world-view throughout the process.

Additional conference presenters will be Dr. Sherrill Wilson, Urban Anthropologist who will discuss the contributions of black organizations and Christopher Paul Moore, Research Coordinator, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and co-author of The Black New Yorkers: 400 Years of African American History and Slavery In New York.  Mr. Curtis will discuss the black Tappan Patent holders and colonial New York.The conference promises to be a wonder-full presentation of the history of a community of people whose untold but not to be forgotten presence has played an essential role in the development of the Hudson River Valley.  We look forward to both sharing and making history with you.

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