New York Post

A fiery Juneteenth

Eric ties slavery to ‘displaceme­nt’ of blacks in NY nabes


New York City needs to “do better” in preventing black residents from being driven out of their neighborho­ods, Mayor Adams said on Sunday during a ceremony marking the Juneteenth holiday.

Speaking in Central Park, Adams compared the modern-day uprooting of people of color from neighborho­ods across the US — including the five boroughs — to slavery, and appeared to compare gentrifica­tion to forced relocation.

Horrors of history

“When I was in Ghana last year, [I] saw how families were displaced, torn

apart and brought over to America through slavery in the hulls of the ships, living in dungeons, spending months and months living in their human waste, having their babies taken from them, and saw them dispersed and displaced,” he said.

“That’s no different here,” Adams told the crowd at the Central Park Conservanc­y’s Juneteenth Celebratio­n.

“We cannot look in the rear-view mirror and say

we should have done better when we are here right now,” he said. “Let’s do better right now. Let’s acknowledg­e the presence of people to be part of the community that they built.”

The mayor pointed to Seneca Village, which was establishe­d in 1825 in a western portion of present-day Central Park, and became home to more than 200 free black people — who were evicted some 30 years later to make way for the constructi­on of the Manhattan green space.

“Imagine being displaced over and over and over again,” Adams said. “When this village was torn apart to build this park, we displaced the energy of Seneca Village. It never came back,” he said.

“Let’s not commemorat­e Seneca Village when we’re creating another destructio­n of a Seneca Village.

“We should think about that as we jog through here as we watch this beautiful space that [Frederick Law] Olmsted built, as we look at how great this Central Park is in the center of Manhattan, we displaced some families here. We destroyed lives,” the mayor said. “There were families here long before Starbucks. They were here, and they provided a foundation.”

Black communitie­s in the area were forced to move and rebuild in other neighborho­ods, such as Harlem, Downtown Brooklyn and BedfordStu­yvesant, Adams said, adding, “And now what’s happening now? We’re displacing them again.”

Adams, New York City’s second black mayor, noted that black Americans have in recent decades been forced out of neighborho­ods in Tulsa, Okla., Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta — communitie­s he lamented as having been met with “destructio­n.”

“Starting anew over and over again, and we wonder why we see some of the crises that we’re facing in black and brown communitie­s,” he said. “Every time they were able to have a foothold, they were displaced again. As soon as you started to build something, it was torn apart.”

Holiday’s purpose

Adams — who in April announced that Juneteenth would be a paid holiday for municipal workers — encouraged the roughly 40 Park Conservanc­y attendees to not just reflect on the past, but to make sure it does not repeat itself.

“Let’s educate our children so that they know that there were folks who were here that built this city that we call New York,” he said.

Juneteenth, one of America’s oldest holidays, marks the end of slavery in the US on the date in 1865, when Union troops arrived in Texas to inform the last remaining Confederat­e sympathize­rs that they lost the Civil War, so all slaves needed to be freed. In June 2021, Juneteenth became the 12th federal holiday.

Earlier Sunday, the mayor’s office said City Hall, the Empire State Building and other landmarks would be lit red, black and green that night and Monday — to mark the colors of the Pan-African flag in tribute to the holiday.

“On this Juneteenth, we proudly say Black history is American history,” Adams said in a release. “Today is a moment to remember and celebrate the countless contributi­ons of Black Americans to our country, while recognizin­g the many sacrifices and hardships our community has faced.

“I hope all New Yorkers will join with me in acknowledg­ing the freedom Black Americans were denied for far too long.”

 ?? ?? BIG FIRST: Mayor Adams signs a note at the Central Park Conservanc­y’s Sunday event for the now-federal holiday of Juneteenth.
BIG FIRST: Mayor Adams signs a note at the Central Park Conservanc­y’s Sunday event for the now-federal holiday of Juneteenth.

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