Jupiter Hammon’s Long Island: Freedom, Community, and the Roots of Inequality


Mellon/ACLS Scholars and Society Fellowships




Preservation Long Island


Jupiter Hammon, the first published African American poet, lived in bondage on Long Island for most of his 90 years at Joseph Lloyd Manor, an historic site now owned by Preservation Long Island (PLI). His life coincided with a momentous era in our nation’s history that included a revolution, the founding of a new republic, and the end of slavery in the North. Yet he also witnessed the struggles of fellow people of color to achieve their aspirations in the face of serious obstacles. By highlighting their stories, this project illuminates how Long Island became—as it remains—one of the most segregated regions in the nation. Spanning from the mid-seventeenth to the twentieth century, this project examines how, despite hardening patterns of systemic racism, African and Native Americans endeavored to secure land, employment, and other opportunities. While oft-described as the vanguard of American suburbanization, Long Island’s mixed outcomes—separate and unequal—deserve greater scrutiny to unearth the deep roots of its color lines. Partnering with PLI, this project includes: producing a research-based monograph; developing innovative educational programs and resources to enhance historical interpretation; and fostering public dialogue about the consequences of slavery and racial inequality in America.