New York and Slavery

Time to Teach the Truth

By Alan J. Singer

Subjects: New York/regional, General Interest, Social Studies Education, History
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9780791475102, 178 pages, August 2008
Hardcover : 9780791475096, 178 pages, August 2008

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Challenges readers to rethink the way we view the nation’s past and race relations in the present.


Blending historical narrative with ideas for engaging young people as historians and thinkers, Alan J. Singer introduces readers to the truth about the history of slavery in New York State, and, by extension, about race in American society. Singer's perspective as a historian and a former secondary school social studies teacher offers a wealth of new information about the past and introduces people and events that have been erased from history.

New York, both the city and the state, were centers of the abolitionist struggle to finally end human bondage; however, at the same time, enslaved Africans built the infrastructure of the colonial city. The author shows teachers how to develop ways to teach about this very difficult topic. He shows them how to deal with racial preconceptions and tensions in the classroom and calls upon teachers and students to become historical activists, conduct research, write reports, and present their findings to the public.

Alan J. Singer is Professor of Secondary Education in the School of Education and Allied Human Services at Hofstra University. He is coauthor (with Maureen O. Murphy and S. Maxwell Hines) of Teaching to Learn, Learning to Teach: A Handbook for Secondary School Teachers and Social Studies for Secondary Schools: Teaching To Learn, Learning To Teach, Third Edition.


"An inspired high school teacher … unearths the long-buried history of slavery, complicity, and resistance in New York state, from the Wall Street slave market to the fiery rhetoric of Frederick Douglass. Singer provides useful strategies to help teachers navigate racially charged curriculum and discussions, making this an invaluable resource. " — Chronogram

"New York and Slavery resists the all-consuming drive to make scoring well on standardized tests the goal of education, emphasizing rather the importance of focusing on the realities of history and helping young people become savvy critical thinkers … An absolute 'must-read' supplementary resource for junior high, high school, and even college American History educators. " — Wisconsin Bookwatch

"Singer sheds light on slavery by providing an insightful historical examination. " — CHOICE

"New York and Slavery is a singular gift to New York teachers and children, and a milestone in the battle for historical truth. How else, Singer's book seems to ask, are we ever going to solve our racial nightmare, educate our children for a multicultural world, and provide future citizens with the knowledge they need?" — In Motion Magazine

"Alan Singer has produced a wonderful teaching resource for those interested in New York State history, the history of slavery and abolition within the state and in the North, and African American history. The book will be useful to teachers at all levels and to a general audience for several reasons. Written in lucid, accessible prose, the book addresses methodological and pedagogical issues with candor and transparency at a conceptual level and simultaneously provides many helpful examples and models for constructing practical lesson plans. The historical content reflects the author's comprehensive review of the secondary scholarly literature and familiarity with pertinent primary sources. The book is an excellent guide for instructors wishing to supplement standard textbook treatments of slavery in the northern United States, New York State, and New York City. " — Myra Young Armstead, author of Mighty Change, Tall Within: Black Identity in the Hudson Valley

"Slavery helped forge America's political economy, culture, and race relations. In clear, thoughtful, and accessible language, Alan Singer has helped us better understand and teach the 'peculiar institution. ' This excellent guide is not just for teachers or New Yorkers, it is for all of us. " — William H. Watkins, author of The White Architects of Black Education: Ideology and Power in America, 1865–1954