Weeksville, Long Island
Weeksville was a village of what is the present-day neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant located in the borough of Brooklyn, Long Island, New York. The neighborhood had the crowns of a pioneering newspaper, orphanage, and home for senior citizens and good schools to wear as evidence of its visionary and humane foundations. Weeksville covered seven blocks and was once a model of African American entrepreneurial success, political freedom and intellectual creativity. Its residents shared in every major national effort against slavery and for equal rights for free people of color, including the black convention movement, voting rights campaigns, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, resistance to the Draft Riots in New York City; Freedman’s schools and African nationalism. According to one historian, the Public School 83 in Weeksville became the first public school in the nation to integrate fully its teaching staff.
In 1838, an African American freedman named James Weeks bought a modest plot of land from Henry C. Thompson, another free African American. Established as a suburban enclave by a group of African American land investors and political activists on the outskirts of Brooklyn, Weeksville became the second largest known independent African American community in pre-Civil War America in 1850. The neighborhood had more than 500 residents from all over the East Coast Almost 40 percent of them were southern-born. Almost one-third of the men over 21 owned land. By the 1860s, Weeksville had its own schools, churches, an orphanage, an old age home, a variety of African American-owned businesses and became the national headquarters of the African Civilization Society and the Howard Orphan Asylum. In 2005, the Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation in New York.
The Weeksville Society has taken an admirable lead in planning the continuing renovation and further development of the neighborhood. There are motivated plans on the anvil. Historic structures are destined for preservation and the rich collection of artifacts and documents will have a permanent museum home. The Master Plan also includes an Auditorium and a host of facilities for tourists and visitors. The essence of future vision is entrenched in respect for the past. They also plan to deflect important resources to improve environmental consciousness in the area. The idea is to revitalize the healthy practice of raising vegetable gardens and encouraging all people to grow at least part of what they eat. Music, especially Jazz will be another center to draw people together, celebrating the past whilst also making some notable history of current times. Today, the Weeksville community extends to continue its inherited tradition of social development.