The celebrate Black History Month and the 220th birthday at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we are looking at the obstacles and opportunities that Black people encountered at the Brooklyn Navy Yard from the end of the Civil War through the Yard’s closure a century later. The program will examine the long history of African-Americans in the maritime trades, their systematic exclusion from the uniformed ranks of the US Navy in the Jim Crow era, and the new opportunities that emerged during World War II. We will look at profiles of trailblazers, innovators, and activists who worked and served there, and how the Yard became an important to Black economic and cultural life in Brooklyn. This virtual program follows up where we left off with last year’s “An Unfree Fleet,” which looked at the Yard’s connections to the institution of slavery.
November 10 marks the 245th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, which has had a longstanding presence in Brooklyn, dating back to the first marine guards posted at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1807. This virtual program will highlight important historical moments and the evolving mission of the Corps – from the Draft Riots and Whisky Wars of the 1860’s to the Caribbean interventions of the 1910’s to the Vietnam War – through the lens of the marines stationed here in Brooklyn. We will examine original historical documents and listen to oral histories of marines and their families to better understand the meaning of “Semper Fidelis” – always faithful.
Join us for a live virtual program with Grandchamps at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 77 Food Manufacturing Hub to learn about Haitian cuisine and the story behind this family-owned business. Guest Judh Grandchamps Jr. will share a behind-the-scenes look at the spices and flavors that influence their Haitian dishes. We’ll also hear the story behind how Grandchamps started as a restaurant, market, and community gathering space in Bed-Stuy, its expansion to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and how they’ve been weathering the pandemic.
As we reflect on the deeper meaning and troubling implication of the US president describing certain foreign countries as “shitholes,” it has also opened an opportunity to think critically about how and why these places became impoverished. Often, European and American imperial intervention – or outright exploitation – played a significant role. While we celebrate the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a center of innovation, labor, and service, we must also recognize its role in projecting American power across the globe, sometimes for less-than-noble ends.
Take Haiti, the world’s first free black republic, founded as the result of a slave rebellion against French colonial rule. Following the revolution, France and the Great Powers attempted to strangle this young nation in the crib, placing trade embargoes and saddling it with astronomical debt. The United State has a long and complicated history with the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, but the height of US involvement was when the American military occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934. Many of the actions of this military operation originated 1,300 miles away in Brooklyn.>> Continue reading