Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn

Creative Time

Funding Received: 2013
Brooklyn, NY
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
November 1, 2013

Front page of The Freedman’s Torchlight, December 1866.

In keeping with Weeksville’s remarkable history as an intentional community and early advocate for self-determination by Afro-diasporic peoples, we’re very excited to be in discussion with some truly amazing organizations whose work dovetails with these themes. The ongoing and open-ended question of what intentional community and self-determination may mean in the 21st century is the central focus of our research and outreach effort, and directly informs the current round of discussions between community leaders, artists, and curators who are moving forward with the project.

Recent Wins
-- The project team has begun the process of organizing an advisory committee to guide the development of sustainable cultural initiatives that resonate with the values and interests of those who live and work in the neighborhood.
-- Creative Time programming intern Maria Nicolacopoulou is conducting research at Weeksville Heritage Center with the Center’s Research Assistant Megan Goins-Diouf to find the names and works of any visual artists, composers, or writers who may have lived there or had an active relationship with the community. Their findings will help shape the work of the five artists who are working to refine their project proposals, and will also serve as a useful resource for visitors, researchers, and the public.

Some of the thought-provoking insights and questions that artists have raised in response to the Weeksville archive are:

-- Who were the artists, writers, poets, musicians, and writers who lived at Weeksville, or were otherwise actively engaged with the community? And what did they create?
--  The Freedman's Torchlight, a newspaper published in 1866* by Weeksville’s African Civilization Society, featured writing on “philosophies of Black self-help,” “the nature of God and Man,” and exercises on the front page intended to promote literacy in the community. Visiting artists have expressed an interest in how the community saw itself as a center for education and the production of knowledge.


*The newspaper may have been published in other years as well, but only 1866 is found in the records we have searched.