May 11, 2015 • Anonymous
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Manhattanville College’s Tashae Smith ’17 won the Open Space Institute’s Barnabas McHenry Hudson Valley Award for historical preservation, and will be researching the history of slavery in her hometown of Newburgh, New York.
Despite Newburgh’s rich history—it is home to George Washington’s headquarters among other famous sites—Smith feels that people don’t learn about the slaves and indentured African-Americans that built the city. One of Newburgh’s main roads, Broadway, was a specific source of inspiration for Smith, because it was originally built by slaves and although it has been paved over, some of the original bricks remain visible.
“Ever since I was a little girl my mom would tell me that the brick road was put down by African American slaves. Despite my mother telling me this, I never gave much attention to this road. It is sad to say that under my feet was something that contained so much history but I never gave it a second thought,” Smith said, thanking her mother for helping her brainstorm and come up with a topic.
Smith also thanked several members of the Manhattanville community including Archivist and Special Collections Librarian Lauren Ziarko with helping her find multiple resources to help bring her project to life, Professor Randy Williams, who assisted her with creating a budget for the project, and Professor Colin Morris, who discussed different ideas with her for the project, and was the person to nominate her for the award.
“[Professor Morris] sent me an email over winter break telling me about the McHenry Award and how he thought I would be perfect for it. Of course I could not turn that down because it was an honor that Professor Morris thought I had what it took to win this award, “Smith said.
Once her research is complete she plans on presenting her findings at the Ritz Theater in Newburgh, which is located on Broadway. Her exhibit will also include performances that help highlight the project.
The McHenry Awards were established in 2007 and distributed annually to undergraduate and graduate students. Each honoree is given up to $6,000 to partner with a nonprofit organization and complete a project in environmental conservation, historic preservation, the arts, or tourism.
Tashae SmithHistoryColin MorrisRandy WilliamsLauren Ziarko