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The Insider's Connection

Social Justice

Maritcha Lyons: Racial Equality Activism and Shaping the NYC Public School System

How did one woman’s lifelong fight for racial equality shape the New York City school system? How might growing up around activism inspire a young person to create change? How many people have heard the name Maritcha Remond Lyons? Maritcha Lyons was Albro and Mary Lyons‘ third child, born into a free black community in…

The fate of the James Marion Sims Monument

How does a shifting social consciousness change a city’s landscape? Who is involved in deciding which stories a city tells? What constitutes a vital moment in a rapidly-changing city’s history? Over the course of 84 years, millions of people walking on the East Side of Cental Park nears 103rd Street expect to encounter a bronze…

Uncover the Story: NYC’s Fight for LGBTQIA+ Rights

New York’s history is abundant with public demonstration. Particularly in the past 100 years, empowered New Yorkers and their allies have organized in public parks, outside government buildings, across bridges and tunnels and boroughs, in support of issues from Women’s Suffrage in 1920 to Environmental Sustainability in 2019. Public assembly is a pervasive response to…

Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”: The First Great Protest Song of the Civil Rights Movement

What happens when protest is propelled forward by music? How do people in power silence artists who have the courage to speak against injustice? What is the cost of resistance through art?  Billie Holiday, the legendary jazz singer, challenges the injustice of lynching with her iconic rendition of the song “Strange Fruit,” the first great…

The Great New York Conspiracy of 1741: Slave Rebellion

Why are historians still debating an event that happened in 1741? What do rumors, trials, conspiracies, and fears reveal about a shifting public consciousness amongst 18th century New Yorkers? Why is The Conspiracy of 1741 particularly resonant in 2019?  Enslaved African-Americans in New York City first rebelled for their freedom in 1712, setting fires to…

Enslaved Woman Hiding in Plain Sight: A Story of Daring Escape

What did it take to escape from slavery? How was it possible? No matter how many accounts we gather about the creativity, courage, collaboration involved in escape, we know some pieces of the puzzle will always be missing. When we encounter these stories, we must remember that there are many more that we’ll never know….

African American Heritage: The Businessman Who Set People Free

 How do the stories of buildings and people reveal secrets of the city’s history? How did New Yorkers get involved in the Underground Railroad? How is it possible that significant secrets to the history of New York hid for so long in plain sight? When you stand at the corner of Broad and Wall Street, you’re…

The Forgotten Liberator

What does it take for one person to oppose an international system as insidious and devastating as racism? On Martin Luther King Day, we consider the courage, risk, and profound effort involved in the fight for equality. Martin Luther King challenged the system. He suffered devastating losses and celebrated remarkable victories, changing the course of…