A Step Ahead - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2097729

A Step Ahead

I wish good luck and wide appeal to the Plain Sight Project and their documentary film, “Forgotten Founders: David Hempstead Sr.” [“‘Forgetting To Remember’: Exhibition Shines Light on Stories of East End Enslaved People,” 27east.com, February 1].

In an era in which many on the political right are actively banning books (including those by Alice Walker and Toni Morrison) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis blocks an AP African American history study program, it becomes an urgent matter to inform as many inquisitive people as possible about Black history, which is American history. The Plain Sight Project seems to be the perfect response to those with warped perspectives on the American past.

As pointed out in the article, one of the filmmakers, Julian Alvarez, found himself overcoming his “blissful ignorance” about slavery on Long Island.

In the same boat as Julian Alvarez, not too long ago I did not know this: “Many Long Island households included one or two enslaved people. By 1720, there was about one enslaved person for every 10 settlers on Long Island — and by the 1730s, more people were enslaved on Long Island than anywhere else in the northern colonies” (WSHU Public Radio).

American history is a story of two steps ahead, one step back. Nowhere is that more evident than in the period after the Civil War, the Reconstruction era, when America adopted the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, but also turned to the ravages of the KKK and Jim Crow laws.

The Plain Sight Project is a step ahead, an anecdote to those urging the country to take a step back.

Mike Anthony