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African American Heritage Trails: Explores the History and Legacy of African Americans in Westchester County

Written by Aliya Moudud, a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence College studying politics and advocacy work. 

Dr. Larry H. Sprull’s lecture African American Heritage Trails situates the history and legacy of African American presence in Westchester County.  Assembled around 1998, Westchester County’s African American Heritage Trail presents many opportunities for expansion.  Using his extensive and acclaimed research, Dr. Sprull emphasizes the necessity of continually updating the trail with new locations and encourages participants to engage in this work. 

The presentation discusses the two sites specific to the city of Yonkers along the Heritage Trail: Philipse Manor Hall on Warburton Avenue and the statue of Ella Fitzgerald created by local artist Vinnie Bagwell on Buena Vista Ave. Dr. Sprull provides in-depth biographies of Yonkers’ native Ella Fitzgerald and resident W.C. Handy. He posits that a singular statue and landmark plaque cannot encompass the true significance of these artists and their impact on the world. Incorporating music, video clips and questions, Dr. Larry H. Sprull reflects on which parts of its history Yonkers embraces and what (or whom) it has forgotten over the years. Sprull empowers the audience with ways to continue improving the trail in order to give voice to the “misunderstood and forgotten.”

This video is part of a local history lecture series in partnership with the library and Sarah Lawrence College funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Link to the first lecture by Professor Linwood J. Lewis titled “Race and the Environment in the City of the Seven Hills.”