Most visitors are not aware that the Van Cortlandt plantation relied upon the labor of enslaved Africans, as did many plantations and farms in the north. Enslaved Africans, their descendants, and Indigenous people were vital to colonial New York’s economy–growing, harvesting, milling, packing, and shipping the wheat that would be a staple export out of New York harbor.
In addition to being the home of the wealthy and influential Van Cortlandt family, the land now known as Van Cortlandt Park was home to generations of enslaved people, both African and Native American, going back to the 1600s. The work of enslaved people in the Bronx–building roads, constructing houses, damming streams–is still visible in the landscape of the park. Favorite sites in Van Cortlandt Park, like the lake and Van Cortlandt House Museum, are daily reminders of their labor and lasting legacy.
Join Van Cortlandt Park Alliance for a virtual presentation of the history of slavery in Van Cortlandt Park. Educator and subject expert Cheyney McKnight will lead the presentation. Cheyney McKnight is the founder and owner of Not Your Momma’s History. She acts as an interpreter advocate for interpreters of color at historical sites up and down the east Coast, providing them with much needed on-call support. Special thank you to Van Cortlandt House Museum Kingsbridge Historical Society.
For more information on Not Your Momma’s History visit: notyourmommashistory.com.
To learn more about the Enslaved People Project visit: vancortlandt.org/epp.
Van Cortlandt House Museum photo courtesy of Van Cortlandt House Museum.