Welcome to the Amistad Commission

In 2005, New York’s Legislature created an Amistad Commission to review state curriculum regarding the slave trade. All people should know of and remember the human carnage and dehumanizing atrocities committed during the period of the African slave trade and slavery in America and consider the vestiges of slavery in this country. It is vital to educate our citizens on these events, the legacy of slavery, the sad history of racism in this country, and on the principles of human rights and dignity in a civilized society.

From Emancipation to Freedom and Beyond

This year, 2013, is an anniversary year that we have been anticipating for quite some time here at the Amistad Commission.  The anniversaries of key moments from the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement coincide to represent important steps in our nation’s reckoning with slavery and racism. More »

Statement from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Martin Luther King Day

“Today, we honor the legacy of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. – a man who devoted his life to ending discrimination in this country and creating a more just society. He believed in the inherent and fundamental equality of all people – that every man, woman and child should be treated fairly no matter the color of their skin.


Here in New York, Dr. King’s teachings have continued to guide social progress and reminds us that there is still more that must be done to make our communities safer and fairer for all. We have a civil rights crisis today in this state where 16- and 17-year-olds are still tried as adults. Changing this practice has to be a priority in the legislative session. We still have inequality in our schools where the only pieces of technology in some are metal detectors. This year, I am proposing an education bond to fund the latest technology in our classrooms because all of our students deserve it.

I join with all New Yorkers in remembering the life of this great leader, not only today but every day.”


For Young Readers:

A Free Woman on God's EarthA Free Woman On God's Earth: The True Story of Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman, The Slave Who Won Her Freedom
By Jana Laiz and Ann-Elizabeth Barnes

A Free Woman On God's Earth is a juvenile biography for ages 8 and up containing over 40 illustrations. It is the story of Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman, the enslaved African woman who had the courage and conviction to speak what was in her heart, suing for her freedom in a Massachusetts court of law. In gaining her own freedom, she set the stage for the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts in 1783. An engaging history that fulfils the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for third, fourth and fifth grades in the categories of Local Biography, Local History, Revolutionary War Heroes.




Pursuit of FreedomAbolitionist Brooklyn -

Pursuit of Freedom at the Brooklyn Historical Society




Learn more about African-American History Month Exhibits during the month of February:
The Amistad Commission and New York Department of State Celebrate African-American History Month

Audio Recording: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Address to the New York State Civil War Commission:








New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War Online Exhibit

Civil War Soldier. J. Oldershaw, photographer, 1864. Photograph print on carte-de-visite. Beinecke Library, Yale University.

Civil War Soldier. J. Oldershaw, photographer, 1864.
Photograph print on carte-de-visite. Beinecke Library, Yale University.

For Young Readers:

Stolen into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northup, Free Black Man
By Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin

Stolen into Slavery Book Cover image

As featured in the motion picture film of the same name.
The original adult version of same title was written by
Solomon Northup, a free African American and native of
Saratoga, New York.

Wings of Eagles Discovery Center


Tuskegee Airmen Exibit

Featured Exibits:

Bessie Coleman (1893-1926)

The Tuskegee Airmen










The Tuskegee Airmen, one of the exhibits
honoring the African-American impact
in World War II at the Wings of Eagles
Discovery Center

Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region

The 13th Annual Underground Railroad Public History Conference Organized by Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc. – April 11-13, 2014 at Russell Sage College, Troy, NY

In 2014 Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region has chosen to focus on the role of slavery as the impetus for the Underground Railroad movement, and to investigate the legacy of slavery against which the Underground Railroad movement is interpreted and made relevant for us today. The enslavement of African descended people in the Americas, and the United States in particular, has contributed to the historical and cultural setting in which we find ourselves.

We invite proposals that address reinterpretations, teaching, new research, and other ways that illustrate, address and celebrate the story historically and contemporarily. Also welcomed are proposals related to the Underground Railroad Movement, enslavement, or emancipation in the United States, and the relevance for us today.

For more information: http://undergroundrailroadhistory.org/category/annual-conference/

Slavery Abolition Freedom

Abolitionists, the Underground Railroad and the Struggle for Freedom in New York
Sunday, September 22, 2013 1-2:30 PM. New York State Museum

Courtesy of the Albany Institute of History & Art

Sanford Robinson Gifford poster announcing a speech by Civil Rights Leader
Sanford Robinson Gifford on National Guard Duty for the Union A poster announcing a speech by Civil Rights Leader and Founder of the National Council of Negro Women Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune

Courtesy of the New York State Military Museum

Brady Harper’s Ferry photo unidentified soldier's photo
Brady Harper’s Ferry Unidentified African-American from the Civil War

Courtesy of the Rensselaer County Historical Society

Liberty Street Presbyterian Church / Rev. Henry Highland Garnet
Liberty Street Presbyterian Church / Rev. Henry Highland Garnet

Rev. Henry Highland Garnet  was an important figure in the abolitionist movement.  Henry Highland Garnet was born into slavery in Maryland in 1815.  When his master dies in 1824, his family escaped from slavery and ends up in New York City in 1826.  In 1840, Garnet travels to Troy to become a teacher in a school for African-American children.  In 1842, Garnet was ordained by the Troy Presbytery and he becomes the first minister of the Liberty Street Presbyterian Church, an African-American congregation. 

After this, Rev. Garnet becomes active in the anti-slavery movement.  He was involved with the American Anti-Slavery society.  He published and distributed a small paper The Clarion, whose objective was "to aid the Negro in all aspects of his emancipation." With William G. Allen, also of Troy, he produced the periodical The National Watchman. Unfortunately, no copies of The Clarion exist.

AME Zion Church Board
A.M.E. Zion Church Board & Trustees   /   Draft Riot Proclamation   /   A.M.E. Zion Church

RCHS has a letter from Mr. Charles Gidney, in the group photograph, to the Mayor describing the horrors of the draft riots that occurred in Troy.

Courtesy of the Buffalo State University

Uncrowned Queens Archives

New York State Museum


An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War
Saturday, September 22, 2012 - Sunday, September 22, 2013
Exhibition Hall
For more information: http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/exhibits/special/CivilWar.cfm




I Shall Think of You Often: The Civil War Story of Doctor and Mary Tarbell
Saturday, March 30, 2013 - Sunday, September 22, 2013
South Lobby
For more information: http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/exhibits/special/tarbell.cfm




Black Capital: Harlem in the 20s – http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/exhibits/longterm/harlem.html


The Mid-Hudson Antislavery History Project (MHAHP) is a non-profit group created in 2006 to bring together researchers, educators, community leaders, and members of the public to:

  • Conduct and synthesize research on the history of antislavery in the Mid-Hudson Valley, with special emphasis on the Underground Railroad
  • Interpret this history and share these interpretations with a wide array of residents and visitors in our area, with particular attention to students and youth; and
  • Place this local history in the broader contexts of racial slavery in the New World, the African-American experience, and antislavery legacies today, including the impact of this historic grassroots movement on subsequent struggles for racial and social justice.

Read more at: www.mhantislaveryhistoryproject.org

Underground Railroad History Project researches and preserves the local and national history of the anti-slavery and Underground Railroad movements, their international connections, and their legacies to later struggles; it engages in public education and dialogue about these movements and their relevance to modern society. Find out more at: www.UndergroundRailroadHistory.org