Two talks on downtown’s Black history starting tomorrow

Westfield is sponsoring a two talks and an exhibition at the Oculus starting tomorrow morning with Kamau Ware, the creator of the Black Gotham Experience tours, on the Black history of downtown. The exhibit, called “The Land of the Blacks,” will be displayed on screens at the Oculus until March 15. The talks are this week:

Saturday, Feb. 20, 10 – 11a: Caesar’s Rebellion
Thursday, Feb. 25, 4 – 5p: Fighting Dark

Tickets are free and open to the public but must be reserved here.

Established in 2010 by Ware, an artist and historian, Black Gotham Experience creates media at the intersection of scholarship and aesthetics that illustrates the impact of the African Diaspora.

For the first talk, participants will learn more about Caesar’s Rebellion, which began in 1712 in the wake of more slave codes passed in British New York. Although stricter laws were passed to limit Black life, the population of enslaved Africans continued to increase as did poor European indentures, creating a large and loosely organized underclass that sought change.

Fighting Dark attendees will explore a dark side of American history as well as the dark-skinned people who were impacted by it, especially the Black New Yorkers who fled during the 1863 riots and those who enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War in what was called the “Colored Troops 20th Infantry” from New York City.

The ‚ÄčLand of the Blacks digital exhibition in the Oculus will present graphics, maps and photography illustrating the 28 different land grants earned by Black people in New Netherland between 1643 and 1663, making it the first Black community in New York City. This digital exhibition will be the largest acknowledgement of these locations.