Mighty Change, Tall Within

Black Identity in the Hudson Valley

Edited by Myra B. Young Armstead

Subjects: African American Studies
Series: SUNY series, An American Region: Studies in the Hudson Valley
Paperback : 9780791456729, 298 pages, January 2003
Hardcover : 9780791456712, 298 pages, February 2003

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Table of contents


Introduction: Conceptualizing Black Identity in the Hudson Valley
Myra B. Young Armstead

1. The Emergence of a New Black Religious Identity in New York City and Eastern New Jersey, 1624-1807
Graham Russell Hodges


2. "Living in a Material World": African Americans and Economic Identity in Colonial Albany
Aileen B. Agnew

3. Laboring for Freedom in Dutchess County
Michael E. Groth

4. A Geography of Slavery and Freedom in Antebellum Ulster County and New York City: Isabella Van Wagenen and Her Family
Myra B. Young Armstead

5. The Kinship System in The Hills, An African American Community in Westchester, New York, in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
Edythe Ann Quinn

6. The Rise and Fall of Skunk Hollow
Joan H. Geismar

7. Stepladder to Community
Irma Watkins-Owens

8. Black Neighborhood Formation in Poughkeepsie during the Great Migration, 1950–1970
Denise Love Johnson

9. Race and Class Politics in a Black Middle-Class Suburb
Bruce D. Haynes

10. Representations of Racial Identity in a Contemporary Pinkster Celebration
Linda Pershing

11. Spaces, Places, and Fields: The Politics of West African Trading in New York City's Informal Economy
Paul Stoller

12. Something in Between: Locating Identity among Second-Generation West Indians in New York City
Sherri-Ann P. Butterfield

Appendix: The Black Presence in the Hudson River Valley, 1790 to 2000: A Demographic Overview
Andrew A. Beveridge and Michael McMenemy



A history of African American presence in the Hudson Valley region from the colonial period to the present.


Using New York State's Hudson Valley as a backdrop, this book provides a regional perspective on black identity from the colonial period to the present. Through racialized struggles and varying experiences of black residents, a black presence in the region has persisted. Factors such as religious structures and cosmologies, ethnicity, legal systems, economic patterns, class, gender, family structures, and leaders have uniquely influenced black identity.

The religion-inspired metamorphosis of celebrated antebellum black resident Isabella Van Wagenen, later known as Sojourner Truth, illustrates how the abandonment of her slave identity and her refusal to call her new employer "master," was a liberation for blacks—a "mighty change. " Moving from the colonial period to the present, this book underscores the mighty change in the identity of blacks in the region over nearly a four-hundred-year period—from captive to slave, from slave to free, from northern-born to southern-influenced, from pre-industrial to post-industrial, from multi-ethnic to multi-national. Like Isabella, in her successful determination to reclaim her son who had been wrongfully forced into slavery, black people within the region have stood "tall within. "

At Bard College, Myra B. Young Armstead is Professor of History, Co-Chair of the American Studies Program, and Chair of the Multiethnic Studies Program. She is the author of "Lord, Please Don't Take Me in August": African Americans in Newport and Saratoga Springs, 1870–1930.