Some people have asked me what contribution New-York Historical might make to discussions around the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the social unrest that has ensued in cities across the United States.
We dedicated ourselves a decade and a half ago to offering exhibitions, public programs, and educational materials designed to help the broadest possible public understand the ugly history of slavery and the legacy that continues to poison our present. It has been our position that applying history’s penetrating gaze to our past is the most effective way for our institution to open Americans’ and others’ eyes to the long shadow that enslavement has cast. At the same time, we also dedicated ourselves to celebrating African and African American lives, and the lives of all of our nation's people, and to appreciate their contributions to the rise of our city as the world’s great metropolis.f
Our efforts neither right the wrongs of the past nor ease the pain suffered by so many for so long. Still, we remain committed to continuing and expanding our efforts. We encourage the use of our great archives, much of it available online, to learn from the work of leading scholars and the stories they have uncovered, discovered, and recovered at this parlous time.
What we need right now is knowledge, truth, and compassion. That's how the study of history conditions us to respond because it's in learning about the lives of others that we can stand in their shoes, empathize, and move forward to work for a more perfect union together.