Rescuing an Off Off Broadway Theater With a Storied Past

Day was “a major leader of the Black community, and he was connected up with other important people that were in the abolitionist movemen...

Day was “a major leader of the Black community, and he was connected up with other important people that were in the abolitionist movement,” Mr. Calarco said. “We know for at least 26 years, he was still participating in these important meetings with people who were leaders of the movement, so you have to make that assumption that he, if not directly, was indirectly involved in the Underground Railroad.”

Mr. Calarco also shared a document showing that in 1846, Day was one of a roster of African-Americans given land grants in the Adirondack region of upstate New York by Gerrit Smith, a major underwriter of the Underground Railroad.

Mr. Calarco speculated that Day may have used his wealth to fund Underground Railroad operations, whose conductors were often pressed for cash. “They needed the money,” he said, “to pay for the food, to pay for the travel, to pay for the clothes, to pay for people who helped transport” fugitives on boats and trains.

After the Civil War, with slavery abolished, Day worked to secure the vote for all Black people in New York State. In 1866, The Standard reported, he was one of a group that called for a convention to remove the discriminatory provision in the state constitution that barred Black people from voting unless they owned property valued at the considerable sum of $250. “The war of steel is over … but the war of ideas must go on until in this country true democratic principles shall prevail,” the group wrote, echoing today’s battles over voter suppression.

In 1871, a year after the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution finally prohibited the federal government and the states from denying or abridging the right to vote based on race or color, a massive jubilee parade of Black citizens wended its way uptown from Washington Square, with throngs of Black and white New Yorkers lining the route. At a “grand mass meeting” at the Cooper Union, The Times reported, Day was among the officers who issued a resolution declaring that the 15th Amendment could only improve the lot of Black Americans if “the exercise of the ballot shall at once be made safe, and our right to exercise it be maintained by civil authority.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Rescuing an Off Off Broadway Theater With a Storied Past
Rescuing an Off Off Broadway Theater With a Storied Past
Newsrust - US Top News
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