How can a historic house museum speak to communities experiencing complex urban change and social ills in the twenty-first century? Weeksville Heritage Center (WHC), a post-emancipation site based in residential Brooklyn, interprets a free black, intentional, land-owning community, which established its own schools, churches, and anti-slavery organizations, and operated as a safe space for African Americans in the greater New York area throughout the nineteenth century. The museum is a direct result of more than a generation of community activism begun in the late 1960s to reclaim a forgotten history. WHC radically attempts to redefine ideas of freedom and emancipation in contemporary and self-determined ways. Drawing on Weeksville’s histories, WHC explores interpretations that highlight agency, independence, and activism and that resonate with contemporary concerns.

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