Talking About Race Matters – Feb/Mar 2021

Race is an important conversation to DFM.
We are undergoing an extensive research initiative to discover the lives of the enslaved in Inwood and Upper Manhattan.
Head to our DyckmanDISCOVERED page for more information!

Join the Discussion . . .

We are so delighted to continue our Talking About Race Matters lecture series that was so successful in August of 2020.

Join us on Wednesdays, February 3rd through March 10th at 6pm!

This six-week series during Black History Month will discuss and tell the stories of New York’s Black history. Each week will be a different speaker touching on a unique New York Black experience followed by a Q&A.

About our Talking About Race Matters Lecture Series:
One of the most important topics throughout history and in recent months, is the topic of race. Given current events covered in the news, we at the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum feel that it is important to have and to facilitate conversations on race, even though they can be challenging. Because of this, we have put together a series of talks with experts, each looking at the topic of race from a different perspective. Our hope is that we can all come together, learn from one another, and to continue the conversation. We hope that you will join us!


Support the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum by purchasing a limited edition shirt that highlights the enslaved and free people who lived and worked at the Farmhouse.

Proceeds support further research and educational programming on the topic of the enslaved and free people highlighted on the t-shirt.

Our goal is to sell 300 shirts during our Talking About Race Matters Lecture Series that ends on March 10th, 2021.

Make a purchase today to help us reach our goal and support DFM research and free public programming!


Week 1, Wednesday February 3rd at 6pm:

Unearthing New York City’s Forgotten Past: Seneca Village the Life and Death of an African American and Irish Immigrant Community

Mr. Herbert Seignoret


About the Talk:

Seneca Village was established in the 1820s as a free Black settlement. The Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History (IESVH) has defined its boundaries as 82nd to 89th Streets and 7th to 8th (Central Park West) Avenues, as these streets might extend into the park.

By the mid-1850s, it was a thriving community with a population of over 260; two-thirds were of African descent, while the rest were Europeans, mostly Irish. The community included a school and three churches; two were Black while one was racially integrated. In the 1850s, the City of New York legislated to construct Central Park in the area that included Seneca Village.

Taking the land through the right of eminent domain, it evicted the residents and razed their homes for the Park’s creation. This talk will explore the work done by the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History to research and raise awareness on the silenced history of Seneca Village.

Herbert Seignoret is the Director of the Colin Powell School’s Academic Advising Office. He is also the Associate Director of the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History. The goal of the institute is to conduct ongoing research on the site of Seneca Village, to educate the public about its significance to the city’s history, and to commemorate the site.

Week 2, Wednesday February 10th at 6pm:

The Story of Dyckman Oval: Uptown Manhattan’s Historic Negro League Baseball Stadium

Mr. Don Rice


About the Talk:

When the legendary Dyckman Oval ballpark opened at the northern tip of Manhattan in 1917, Major League baseball was still decades away from including players of color. Black independent teams at the time were filled with fantastic players, and NYC sports fans wanted to see these teams play. But for years local stadium owners had blocked many of them from booking games here.

As word spread that Dyckman Oval would book its events regardless of race, the ballpark became a go-to stop for some of the best black baseball outfits of the teens and twenties – among them Atlantic City’s Bacharach Giants and Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants. Just a few subway stops from Harlem, the games drew huge crowds. In 1935 the Oval hosted games 1 and 3 of the Negro National League World Series, and over its lifetime at least 30 future hall of famers played or managed there. We’re talking Rube Foster, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, not to mention Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

But Dyckman Oval wasn’t just about baseball: the NFL at the time excluded black players too, and Fritz Pollard’s legendary unit, the Brown Bombers, held forth at the Oval for three seasons from 1935-1937.
During its short 20 year existence, the Oval played a significant role supporting black sports in NYC at a time when players’ and teams’ options were limited. Using rare photos and recent research we’ll hear the ballpark’s story from its creation to its untimely end in 1938, a full plate a little-known NYC sporting life from the early 20th century.

An uptown resident for over two decades, Don Rice has served on the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance board since 2014 and as its President since 2017. In 2009 he began hosting a popular series of uptown history lectures with Cole Thompson and co-wrote “Lost Inwood” released in 2019 by Arcadia Publishing. Over the last 25 years he’s worked in the music departments of over 60 Broadway musicals.

Week 3, Wednesday February 17th at 6pm:

Zora Neale Hurston and Pura Belpré: Pioneers of Black and Latinx Folk Culture in Upper Manhattan

Dr. Will Walker


About the Talk:

In January 1932, at the John Golden Theater on 58th St. between Broadway and 7th Ave., the famed writer Zora Neale Hurston mounted a daring and innovative revue called The Great Day, which featured Black folk culture in all its splendor. A critical and popular success, the show included singing, dancing, sermonizing, and storytelling from various African diasporic traditions. Hurston had arrived in Manhattan seven years earlier in 1925 and had rapidly become a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Known for her short stories and novels, she was equally interested in using theater and oral storytelling to present Black lives and traditions. 

In the same year as the debut of The Great Day, another significant folk cultural event occurred in New York City; a thirty-three-year-old New York City public librarian named Pura Belpré published a remarkable picture book titled Perez and Martina, the “first known Latino storybook published by a major English/American press . . . [and] the first known integrally bilingual (Spanish/English) children’s book in U.S. mainstream publishing history.” After migrating from Puerto Rico to New York in the early 1920s, Belpré had become the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Public Library system and, shortly thereafter, began telling stories originating in Latin America to audiences of children and families in library branches and other venues across the city, from the Lower East Side to Harlem. One of the programs she pioneered in these years continues today as a vital New York tradition: the Fiesta de los Reyes Magos, or Three Kings Day celebration. For Belpré, library work, storytelling, and writing served the larger purpose of cultivating effective approaches to bilingual education and fostering cultural pride among Latinx New Yorkers.

This talk details the work of these two remarkable women during the vibrant and tumultuous eras of the Harlem Renaissance and the Great Depression. It shows that Hurston and Belpré were pioneers in bringing Black and Latinx folk culture to New York and cultural ambassadors who profoundly challenged negative stereotypes and misconceptions about communities of color.

Will Walker is the author of A Living Exhibition: The Smithsonian and the Transformation of the Universal Museum and an editor of The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook ( He is an active public historian who oversees a long-term community oral history project and often facilitates community dialogue programs. You can find him on Twitter @willcooperstown.

Week 4, Wednesday February 24th at 6pm:

The Enslaved at Sylvester Manor: Revealing their stories through Landscape and Memory

Ms. Donnamarie Barnes


About the Talk:

Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island, the ancestral home of the Manhansett People, began in 1651 as a provisioning plantation worked by enslaved Africans brought from Barbados. For almost 400 years, the place has descended through the same family. Today as a not for profit organization, Sylvester Manor Educational Farms’ mission is to Preserve, Cultivate and Share the stories of all the people who lived and worked on this land. Their presence is felt throughout the historic Manor house and throughout the 235 acre landscape.

Donnamarie Barnes began working at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm in 2016 as Curator/ Archivist after working for over thirty years in photojournalism as a photo editor. Her ongoing work of conserving the various collections at the Manor, researching and uncovering the lives and identities of the enslaved and indigenous people of Sylvester Manor is an integral part of the organization’s mission to Preserve, Cultivate and Share the stories of all the people of Sylvester Manor. She has curated the exhibitions, “Women of the Manor”, “A Place in Pictures” and “All That Has Been: Our Roots Revealed”. Her work at Sylvester Manor also includes ongoing photography projects relating to the memory of slavery felt in the landscape.

Week 5, Wednesday March 3rd at 6pm:

Black Dance and Music Connections with Jazz Power Initiative

Mr. Eli Yamin and Ms. Shireen Dickson

About the Talk:

How did the uptown spirit of community collaboration translate into worldwide recognition of black American artistic excellence? Join dancer Shireen Dickson and musician Eli Yamin for this experiential and participatory blend of facts, video footage, and signature songs and dances from the swing and bebop eras, featuring exemplary stories from Harlem-based artists like Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Norma Miller and Dianne McIntyre.

Eli Yamin is a pianist, composer, singer, educator, co-founder and Managing Artistic Director of Jazz Power Initiative, an NYC based non-profit that transforms lives through jazz arts education and performance. He has released eight CD’s featuring his compositions, published three youth-centered jazz musicals in four languages and performed at The White House, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and over 20 countries as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. Rooted in the belief that the blues heals, Eli wrote a book, So You Want to Sing the Blues, published by Rowman and Littlefield and the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).
Shireen Dickson is the director of OKRA Dance Company, which presents interactive African and American diasporic dance and world rhythmic learning experiences in schools, libraries, museums and festivals throughout the US. She was the founding Community Engagement Director for both Elizabeth Streb’s SLAM and Dance Parade, Inc., and currently develops arts curricula, and facilitates teacher trainings and professional development programs infused with American social, cultural and activism practices for a range of organizations.  Shireen is a founding executive board member of the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance based at Duke University, and a 2019 Women of Color in the Arts fellow.  Shireen has been involved with Jazz Power Initiative since 2000.

Week 6, Wednesday March 10th at 6pm:

Generations of Slavery on the Dyckman Property in Inwood, 1661-1827

Dr. Gretchen Sullivan Sorin and Mr. Richard Tomczak

About the Talk:

The generations of enslaved people that worked for the Dyckman family experienced ever-changing legal codes that restricted their movement, behaviors, and well-being. From the Dutch “half-freedom” of Jan Dyckman’s New Amsterdam, to the “negotiated manumission” of New York State, the family and their slaves were at the center of unfolding chapters of American history. Their close proximity to New York City and the agricultural Hudson Valley estates would have made the Dyckman slaves cosmopolitan in the truest sense, with the ability to navigate the rural and urban landscapes of the region. In short, the lives of enslaved people of the Dyckman family shed light on the complex relationships forged in the environs of New York City and the transformation of slavery in the North.

Dr. Gretchen Sullivan Sorin is Director and Distinguished Service Professor at the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Dr. Sorin is the author of Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights recently released in February 2020. Dr. Sorin holds a B.A. degree from Rutgers University in American Studies, an M.A. in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and a Ph.D. from the University at Albany in American history. Dr. Sorin has more than thirty years of experience in the museum profession working for more than 250 museums as a museum exhibition curator and education, programming, and interpretive planning and strategic planning consultant.

Richard Tomczak is a PhD Candidate in History at Stony Brook University. His research examines the entangled relationships among law, labor, and empire in the colonial Americas.

This program is sponsored by TD Bank.

This program is made possible by funding
from the New York Community Trust.

Dyckman Farmhouse Museum is funded in part by a Humanities New York CARES Grant with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act.  Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.