As we stroll through Central Park admiring the beauty of this beautiful park that all New Yorkers have enjoyed at one time or another. It has also been a pivotal sightseeing point for visitors from around the world. Various events have taken place in the park that make it a gem to the city.
While Central Park continues to be enjoyed by countless people for a variety of reasons--what the vast majority may not know historically, it was home to so many people. In the 19th Century, the people that lived there were African Americans, Irish and German immigrants... Approximately, 300 hundred people lived in this community before its demise. New York City is said to have used eminent domain to seize Seneca Village which included schools, churches, and small businesses, to make way for the park we have today; while displacing the residents and virtually erasing them from history.
Why should that matter to us? As human beings we continue to evolve, grow, and learn. And it is through education of our past that allows us to build our future and give us the ability to build a legacy.
As a lover of history, I was astounded to learn about the history of Seneca Village, which is just one part of the wonderful exhibition at The Met: Before Yesterday We Could Fly: in the Afrofuturist Period Room that will amaze you.
The inspiration comes from Virginia Hamilton’s iconic retellings of the Flying African tale that celebrates the imagination, brilliance, and creativity of enslaved peoples, and their creative use of flight to endure their current situation.
The lead curator of this brilliant piece of history that The Met pulled together was led by the brilliant Hannah Beachler and she in turn brought on Michelle Commander to be the consulting curator. The power of collaboration.
The Met provided great assets from their collection, items from Bamileke beadwork, and the 19th-century American ceramics to contemporary art, and design that showcase the wealth and vastly diverse traditions of a people. I got to see the beautiful work of Njideka Akunyili Crosby up close and personal as well as my fellow Haitian Fabiola Jean-Louis and Jenn Nikiru whose name you might remember from Beyonce and Jay-Z’s video Apesh*t.
So, do you see the connection? Your future and greatness are connected to knowing your history. Which is not the same as living in the past. Knowing your rich history will and should inspire you to do greater things than those that came before us and make us feel committed to doing greater things to leave our own legacy for future generations.
And for me--all of this came about because I was looking for creative ways to engage our readers of World Bride Magazine to think outside of the box as they plan their weddings, to get inspired by art, fashion, and history, and following the trail of new creatives. I had the honor of learning about--Sheila Bridges, founder of Harlem Toile. I was first introduced to her by Mark Ingram who created a beautiful collection of gowns that the fabrics were sourced by her. Absolutely breathtaking.
So let us continue to “Mind Our Business” and make history.