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Liberty on Duffield Street

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Owners of the Downtown Brooklyn house thought to have played a major role in Brooklyn’s Abolitionist movement celebrated Juneteenth Day with music, song and dance.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It is celebrated on June 19.

The home in question is at 227 Abolitionist Place, aka 227 Duffield Street. Beneath it runs a tunnel that many believed was used as part of the “Underground Railroad”.

The home, built in 1848, was owned by Thomas and Harriet Lee−Truesdell, prominent abolitionists of that era.

Abolitionists were people who opposed slavery in America and often helped slaves escape bondage through the “Underground Railroad”.

The house is between the Fulton Mall and Willoughby Street on a block in which the borough’s Abolitionist movement thrived.

Following the 2004 Downtown Brooklyn rezoning, the house along with several others were the center of a showdown between local preservationists and the city, which wanted to condemn them to make way for a park.

However, after a lengthy court battle, the city and preservationists agreed that 227 Duffield Place would be spared.

Around this time, the city also co−named the block Abolitionist Place.

The home’s owner, Joy Chatel, plans on turning the home into a museum dedicated to the Abolitionist movement.

The celebration drew about 50 people, and featured poetry, by Numi and Nacinimod Deodee, a hip hop performance by Hasan Salaam, a drum intro and African dance by Indoda Entsha, and an explanation of Juneteenth by Chatel’s daughter, Shawne Lee.

“Juneteenth is actually the day when enslaved Africans were freed. It’s celebrated across the country and a legal holiday in Texas,” said Lee.

“It was two years after the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19th, 1865 when Union soldiers gathered in Galveston, Texas with the news that the war was over and the slaves were now free,” she added.

Also at the celebration was Assembly member Hakeem Jeffries.

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