weeksville – lesson two


Participants will be able to examine the current Weeksville Heritage Center site and discuss the site’s current impact on the local community, as well as identify how the current mission of the organization is continuing the legacy of Weeksville’s founding.

Intended for all ages


By 1840, merely two years after James Weeks purchased his two lots, Weeksville, much like most of Brooklyn, was growing!

Brooklyn in 1840 was a bustling city with active docks and ferries, rivaling New York City (just Manhattan at this point) in population and economic growth. Weeksville was a community of 27 families—notably, 3 of the families were of European descent. The blossoming community prioritized not only owning land for Black men in the community to be able to vote, but also prioritized education.

Weeksville’s community opened Colored School No.2 in 1840, following the success in the launch of the African Free School (located in what is now the Fort Greene neighborhood) in 1827[1]. Weeksville’s school would attract Junius C. Morel, an abolitionist and writer for Frederick Douglass’ The North Star. Morel would join the community in 1847 and move into the role of principal of Colored School No. 2.


Let’s explore the five w’s of Weeksville: who, what, when, where, why

As historian and CUNY professor, Prithi Kanakamedala remarked, “Weeksville is an intentional free Black community that is self-determined. It intentionally has its own schools, newspapers, churches, and businesses.” In this lesson, we’ll learn how Weeksville expanded as a community and provided space for its residents to grow and flourish.

  1. Explore the center

2. Learn more on the website

Following whichever journey you take, follow up on your visit to explore the Weeksville website to learn more about how the Center came to be and why this area needs to be preserved. While perusing, look for the following: 

  • What is the current mission of Weeksville Heritage Center?
  • What programming and events have been done recently at the Center and how do they relate to the founding vision of the community as a space for Black people to safely grow and flourish?
  • How did the Weeksville Heritage Center come to be? 

3. Map our history

Before you wrap up with this lesson, take a moment to return to your map and see if you can draw where the Weeksville Heritage Center is located. What do you notice about the community’s size versus the heritage center’s land? What is missing?

further wonderings

If interested in diving deeper into the origins of Weeksville and Brooklyn, consider exploring the following questions:

  • What is the significance of the Freedman’s Torchlight?
  • What is the importance of establishing the grid system in Brooklyn to Weeksville?
  • Why would the founders of Weeksville prioritize education? 
  • What role did women play in Weeksville?
  • What historic moments have a Weeksville connection in the 19th and 20th centuries?