Last week the Door-to-Door department visited Sandy Ground Historical Society in Staten Island, New York. The Society is a small, over-flowing museum of artifacts that document the Sandy Ground settlement, the oldest community of free slaves in North America.
StoryCorps’ partnership with Sandy Ground began about a year ago on the New York City portion of the Griot tour. We were fortunate enough to go back to record twelve more interviews thanks to Sylvia Dalessandro and the community outreach department here at StoryCorps. Sylvia brought in African-American ministers from churches all over Staten Island and Brooklyn. She even interviewed some of them herself, including Rev. Maggie M. Howard.
Rev. Howard was the first female pastor of her church. Many of the ministers who came in shared incredible stories of struggle though racism, poverty, sexism, and faith. For some of the participants it was the first time visiting the museum, and the artifacts (photos of segregated schools, documents of sale, tools, etc.) triggered memories and family stories that might not have been recalled otherwise. For me, this was a great reminder of the value of the Door-to-Door department, and the significance of the recording spaces we choose.