New Yorkers have been proud to be at the forefront of the struggle for civil rights for disenfranchised Americans since the struggle for equality for every American began. Beginning in 1799, New York gradually ended slavery within its borders and offered black Americans opportunities denied them in other parts of the country. As a result, black leaders in the Abolitionist movement, like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, made New York their home and worked with Gerrit Smith, William Seward and others to protest slavery in the United States. Visitors can learn about these and other figures at the National Abolition Hall of Fame in Peterboro.
Other New Yorkers took more extreme actions in the struggle to end slavery. John Brown, a farmer who lived in North Elba, traveled to Harper’s Ferry Virginia in an attempt to incite a slave rebellion. Though his efforts failed, abolotionists around the country viewed him as a hero and martyr. Visitors can see his farm and where he lies in rest at the John Brown Farm Historic Site.
New York was also an important destination along the Underground Railroad. The Rochester Museum and Science Center offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about this important path to freedom for thousands of Americans.
A little over one hundred years after the end of the Civil War, New York was the site of a new front in the struggle for civil rights. In 1969, members of the LGBT community rioted against unfair treatment by police outside of the Stonewall Inn. Today, the Gay Liberation Monument stands in Christopher Park as a memorial to that moment in the ongoing struggle for equal treatment.
Path Through History’s Civil Rights theme has all this more to offer visitors. Search our list of sites now in order to plan your trip.