SJU Staten Island Highlights Early African-American Settlement

Oyster Workers in Sandy Ground
Oyster Workers in Sandy Ground

Exhibition Highlights History of 19th-Century African-American Settlement

A new exhibition at St. John’s University’s Staten Island campus is celebrating New York City’s diversity and its early role in the fight against slavery. “Sandy Ground at St. John’s: Faces of the Underground Railroad” is the center-piece of a program showcasing the history and culture of nearby Sandy Ground, America’s oldest surviving African American settlement.

The year-long program is the result of a partnership between the Office of the Provost, Staten Island Campus, St. John’s College Department of English, and the Sandy Ground Historical Society.

The settlement isn’t only important as a stop on the Underground Railroad, but as a living link to the oldest consistently settled free black community in this country.

The St. John’s University exhibition traces the history of the African-American settlement on Staten Island’s south shore. After New York State abolished slavery in 1827, free blacks bought land in Sandy Ground, harvesting oysters and raising strawberries. The seaside community eventually became an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Today the National Park Service recognizes Sandy Ground’s role in the fight against slavery by the town’s inclusion in the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

“Sandy Ground at St. John’s: Faces of the Underground Railroad” opened on April 12 in the Loretto Library Community Learning Commons at the Staten Island campus. It continues through December 20.

Here’s a link to the full article from News and Media

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