This story originally appeared in the New York Daily News.
Hidden in pockets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side is an African American history as rich as anything in Harlem.
Newcomers who have immigrated to the Lower East Side have long left their mark on the neighborhood, contributing to its iconic legacy and cultural heritage. Yet the experiences of African Americans, whose history dates back before the city itself, is often overshadowed by trends and tenements.
The neighborhood’s rich black history will be on display Thursday at the Tenement Museum, where panelists will discuss important contributions African Americans made to the area.
Author Carla Peterson, historian Lauren O’Brien and preservation leader Brent Leggs will host the free program, called “Black Placemaking: Reinterpreting Lower East Side History.”
“The words ‘Lower East Side’ call up different associations and memories for different people,” said Michelle Moon, the Tenement Museum’s chief program officer. “For some, it’s the Eastern European Jewish and Italian migrations of the early 20th century. For others, it’s the Spanish-speaking “Loisaida” or the home of Asian immigrants from the 1970s to today. But there’s one group that’s been present here from the city’s beginnings right through the present day that many people don’t associate with the neighborhood – black New Yorkers. “
Among the topics will be The Sutton House at 143 Allen Street, the sole survivor of five brick Federal-style buildings constructed on the same lot by George Sutton, a commercial ship captain.