Lunchbox Lesson #5 - Passing Through: Rediscovering Schenectady's Black History

Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site hosted Michael Diana of the Schenectady County Historical Society for the fifth installment of the Summer 2021 Virtual “Lunchbox Lesson” series.

“Passing Through: Rediscovering Schenectady's Black History”

Ever since the George Floyd protests last year, Schenectady County Historical Society has looked to re-approach their institutional understanding of black experiences in Schenectady. This has involved new research by educator Michael Diana and an ongoing archival project conducted by the historical society librarian Marietta Carr. The SCHS has undertaken this approach to better reflect the identity of the people of Schenectady County and their ancestry. The year 1827 marked the legal end of slavery in New York State generally and Schenectady in particular. Unfortunately, the newly freed black community of this small American city is completely invisible in the historical record and by the end of the century, it had largely disappeared. This presentation utilizes brand new research to try to uncover what we can about these people, the world they lived in and, ultimately, the reasons they gradually left Schenectady for new lives elsewhere. However, impact on Schenectady County has also included those just “passing through.” Michael Diana is the Education & Programs Manager for the Schenectady County Historical Society. he grew up in Guilderland, New York and has long been fascinated with the natural and historic landscape of the Mohawk Valley. Diana studied history at Hamilton College and returned to Schenectady, becoming a staff member at SCHS and providing tremendous programs that are both engaging, informative and a great deal of fun too. This program was offered for free via Webex and was recorded for later distribution online. Schenectady County Historical Society: 32 Washington Ave., Schenectady, NY 12305 Michael Diana: If you wish to provide a donation to the Friends of Schoharie Crossing, it would be greatly appreciated: Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site 129 Schoharie Street (PO Box 140), Fort Hunter, NY 12069