Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail

PHOTO: Crew of the Rathdown in 1892, from the archive of the National Park Service; courtesy of the author.

PHOTO: Crew of the Rathdown in 1892, from the archive of the National Park Service; courtesy of the author.

Join award-winning author and mariner Dr. Jeffrey Bolster in celebrating Black History Month with a lecture about African American sailors in the 19th century.  The critical historic role played by black mariners in the Port of New York and Brooklyn, although poorly understood, is deeply relevant today. Over 25% of New York’s pre-Civil War maritime workers were black.  Drawing on rich historical sources, and long-forgotten images, Dr. Bolster traces the story to the period after the Civil War.  African Americans actively contributed to the Atlantic maritime culture shared by all seamen in the age of sail, but were often outsiders within it.  Capturing that tension, this stirring presentation examines how common experiences drew black and white sailors together, even as deeply internalized prejudices drove them apart.

February 2
CloseKnit
February 19
Sea Shanty Session