Over the weekend, a group of St. Bernard's fourth graders joined Mr. Kiok and Mrs. Cunningham on a walk through snowy Central Park to visit an important New York City landmark.
Central Park West and 81st Street, two Central Park rangers led a tour of the area that was formerly Seneca Village, a predominantly African American community that was destroyed to make way for the construction of Central Park in 1855.
The group visited the site of one of the community's two churches and learned that the area was integrated, as it was also home to Irish and German workers who helped build the nearby Central Park Reservoir. Students learned that enslaved people had worked in New York as early as the 1600s and actually built the wall along what is today known as Wall Street. The area known as Seneca Village was enticing to free Black people as it offered space and independence north of the then boundary of New York City. Plots of land were sold and promised the ability to vote, since a law allowed black men to vote in 1821, if they had property valued at least $250. In 1845, ten such men lived in Seneca Village.
The boys on the Saturday tour were Zac O., Andrew C., Miles G., Arjun G., Eldan L, as well as brothers Matyi and Luc P. Next week, IV Cunningham will give a Black History presentation to the rest of the school in Friday assembly.