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The Lost (and Found) Community of Weeksville: Background information when reading Libertie

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Libertie

by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge X
Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2021, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 15, 2022, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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About this Book

The Lost (and Found) Community of Weeksville

This article relates to Libertie

Aerial view of intact houses in Weeksville neighborhoodGreenidge's character Dr. Cathy Sampson in Libertie is based on the real-life story of Dr. Susan McKinney Steward, the first Black woman to become a medical doctor in New York State. The novel's setting, meanwhile, is based on the historical settlement of Weeksville, which was located in what is now the Crown Heights neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

Weeksville was founded in 1827, shortly after New York abolished slavery, and was named after longshoreman James Weeks, who bought several plots of land in the area from Black abolitionist Henry C. Thompson. The settlement flourished and became a destination for free Blacks and newly escaped enslaved people, especially during the decades before the Emancipation Proclamation.

As Greenidge depicts in her novel, Weeksville likely played a role in the Underground Railroad; after escaping slavery, people would first arrive by boat in south Brooklyn and would head up to settle in Weeksville shortly thereafter. ...

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