African American History Culture : History's Lost Black Towns

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Amnat77

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Fort Mose, Fla.: The First 'Emancipation Proclamation'
Courtesy of Black Past

Founded in 1738, Fort Mose, located just north of St. Augustine, is the United States' first free black settlement. Amid the fight for control of the New World, Great Britain, Spain and other European nations relied on African slave labor. The king of Spain issued an edict: Any male slave of the British colonies who escaped to the Spanish colony of Florida would be set free -- as long as he declared his allegiance to Spain and the Catholic Church. The settlement was abandoned when the British took possession of Florida in 1763


http://www.theroot.com/multimedia/lost-black-cities
 

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Rosewood, Fla.: A Massacre That Won't Be Forgotten

established in 1870, was the site of what could be considered one of the worst race riots in U.S. history. By 1915 it was a small, predominantly black town -- with a population of just slightly more than 300. On New Year's Day in 1923, a young white woman claimed that a black man sexually assaulted her; Rosewood was destroyed by a band of white men searching for the alleged suspect. The number of those killed is still unknown.

http://www.theroot.com/multimedia/lost-black-cities
 

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Seneca Village, N.Y.: Taking a Stroll Through History

Located between 82nd and 89th streets and Seventh and Eighth avenues is Manhattan's first community of prominent black property owners. The New York State census estimated that about 264 residents lived in Seneca Village between 1825 and 1857. The area consisted of three churches, a school and several cemeteries. All was razed -- and the history erased -- with the development of Central Park.
 

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Five Points District, N.Y.: High Stakes in Lower Manhattan

Today we know it as Wall Street, but from the 1830s to the 1860s, this area was the site of Manhattan's first free black settlement. Located on the five-cornered intersection of what were then Anthony, Cross, Orange and Little Water streets, it also became known as a notorious slum, with its dance halls, bars, gambling and prostitution. Many blacks fled the area to escape the draft riots of 1863.
 

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Weeksville, N.Y.: A Refuge for Southerners and Northerners

What is now Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, N.Y., Weeksville was the second-largest community for free blacks prior to the Civil War. James Weeks, a freed slave, purchased a significant amount of land from Henry C. Thompson, another freed slave. Weeks sold property to new residents, who eventually named the community after him. It thrived over the years, becoming home to both Southern blacks fleeing slavery and Northern blacks escaping the racial violence and draft riots in New York and other cities.
 

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