This interactive video installation by W. Michelle Harris names some of the Black people who lived in this area prior to the Civil War as a mode of remembrance—a simultaneous street-side and waterfront wake. Though they are often rendered invisible in historical accounts, Black people were very much present in the developing communities on the Genesee during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Some were b(r)ought as enslaved members of white settler households. Some had escaped from elsewhere to find some fraction of freedom. Some worked on the Underground Railroad to help others escape to this area and farther north. Some were indentured servants to their former owners as New York’s gradual emancipation laws took effect. Many descendants of the Middle Passage were born, grew up, and died here before the Civil War, and most of their stories are lost to us.
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