Retracing Black Gotham

 

Retracing Black Gotham

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Kamau Ware surveys the East River. As the sun sinks behind the towers of the Financial District, trucks grumble past, cyclists ding their bells, and a ferry slices by. He encourages the seven people who are following him to tune all this out and imagine what the view might have looked like 300 years before, when the harbor was likely speckled with galleons and sloops—many carrying slaves. “How does it feel in your stomach?” he asks.

Ware is leading a walking tour, one prong of Black Gotham Experience, or BGX, an evolving and immersive storytelling project that aims to bring to life the history of black people in early colonial New York—starting before the city was even called that, back when Dutch and English settlers and Native Americans were still wrestling for control of it.