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weeksville heritage center faces closure

May 13, 2019

Located in the heart of Brooklyn, Weeksville was the foundational 19th century community of free Black folks in New York, pre-dating the Civil War by almost a quarter of a century. In the 1960s, it fell into decay but was ultimately saved as a Black heritage site by persistent preservationists. Now, the Weeksville Heritage Center once again faces the possibility of closure, with budget shortfalls to blame. The center, which educates the public about Weeksville’s history, still protects the surviving homes and overall community from being forgotten Black history.

“We would lose this repository of history, of Black Brooklyn, of this inspiring example of what Black people built in an age before emancipation,” said Rob Fields, the executive director of the center. The managers of the center are running a crowdfunding campaign to raise at least $200,000 to keep Weeksville intact until an expect city grant can kick it. These funds would go directly to employee salaries, programming, operations, and annual insurance.

“When I went into the homes, I saw how much they did with so little,” said The Wire actor and Brooklynite Michael K. Williams

“Sometimes I complain about how much square footage I need, and I’m looking at how my ancestors put it down with the bare minimum and created a foundation for me to get where I am today. I kept picking up my bottom lip because I couldn’t believe I was just hearing about this beautiful place,” said Mr. Williams, who grew up in Brooklyn. “I was humbled by all the greatness that I saw.”