Places that Matter

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P.S. 67 Charles A. Dorsey School

1930, courtesy New York Public Library, Schwarzman Building / Milstein Division of U.S. History, Local History and Genealogy
1930, courtesy New York Public Library, Schwarzman Building / Milstein Division of U.S. History, Local History and Genealogy
First independently-led Brooklyn school for African American students
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Place Matters Profile

Written by Prithi Kanakamedala for Place Matters
 
With a history dating back to 1827, P.S. 67 Charles A. Dorsey School was the first independently led educational initiative for black Brooklynites. Named after Charles A. Dorsey, the longest serving principal after the Civil War, the school’s rich history reflects a determination to overcome racism and segregation in the classroom and beyond.
 
Beginnings
In 1815, a resident of the village of Brooklyn opened the first private school for black students at his home on Main Street in the neighborhood we now know as DUMBO. Peter Croger, a free black man, placed an advertisement in the local newspaper, the Long Island Star indicating that the “African School” would be open during the day and evening for “those who wish [to] be taught the common branches of education.”
 
In 1827, the year that slavery ended in New York State, the village’s black community opened a new public school on Nassau between Bridge and Jay streets in present day downtown Brooklyn. The African School offered an education to students of color explicitly excluded from Brooklyn’s first public school. Its educators prepared students to become activists and citizens in the emerging city of Brooklyn at a time when racism and violence were widespread.