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A Look: Weeksville Heritage Center

A Look at the Mission of the Weeksville Heritage Center and a Q&A with its CEO.

This summer, Get Caught Reading launched a new community leader poster series featuring Rina Madhani, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Start Lighthouse; Roderick Jones, Executive Director of Goddard Riverside; and Dr. Raymond Codrington, CEO of the Weeksville Heritage Center.  More posters are to come this year and into 2022.

This is the first of a series of profiles of important community service organizations around the country.

Weeksville Heritage Center is an historic site and cultural center in Central Brooklyn that uses education, arts, and a social justice lens to preserve, document, and inspire engagement with the history of Weeksville, one of the largest free Black communities in pre-Civil War America, and the Historic Hunterfly Road Houses. Our vision is to be a leading authority and resource for the scholarship, exploration, and dissemination of the history of Weeksville and other 19th-and early-20th century free Black communities, as well as the modern-day artistic, intellectual, and social justice imperatives they exemplify and inspire.  Our work will illuminate a pivotal aspect of Black history; empower our visitors with tools, training, and education; celebrate and center Black culture, community, and creativity; and spark dialogue and collaborations between local residents, artists, academics, and activists that advance us towards a more just and equitable world.

We asked Dr. Raymond Codrington, President and CEO of the Weeksville Heritage Center, to answer three questions.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I get to be around the revolutionary history of Weeksville every day. I am humbled by my job. Weeksville is a black American story but it is also an American story that everyone should know about. To be able to think about ways to interpret and present this story is incredible. I tell people that I can describe Weeksville to you, but it’s something that you have to experience first-hand. I can honestly say that there is not another Weeksville in existence. It’s unique and you can feel the history of Weeksville from its founding in 1838 to now. This is a dream job. 

What superpower do you wish you had? 

My family and I have been watching a lot of Marvel movies and shows over the past year, so my daughter and I have been discussing important questions like this. I would have to say the power to fly.  Sometimes you need that 10,000-foot view to see things differently and get a different perspective. Flying also gets you places faster. With airports and planes the way they are who wouldn’t want to travel long distances, quickly without having to deal with either. And a lot of times my head is in the clouds dreaming up things so why not be able to fly and be in the sky with your thoughts?  

What advice has stuck with you for a long time? Who gave you that advice?

“Stick with this, it may be your thing.” My first job out of graduate school was as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Cultural Understanding and Change (CCUC) at the Field Museum in Chicago. A fellow anthropologist and mentor, Dr. Alaka Wali, was the director of CCUC. She’s been a big influence on my work. Alaka gave me this advice. I was going through a hard time at a job and I was thinking about leaving, and it was what I needed to hear at that moment. I needed to be patient. I stuck with the job and it turned out to be one of the best professional decisions I’ve made. It wasn’t an easy job, but I learned a lot and it changed my career path. Sometimes, simple is best. I still have to remind myself to be patient and follow this advice. 

CBC will be publicizing Weeksville events open to the public to CBC member staff and Weeksville will host a Children’s Book Week event in November. 

Read more about the Weeksville Heritage Center

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