It wasn’t always artisanal mayo and strollers: New musical digs up Brooklyn’s slave-owning past

It’s hard to believe that Brooklyn hasn’t always been the blogging, handmade, farm-to-table, indie-band-loving, summer-outdoor-movie-watching fairytale land that it is today. Fact is Kings County had the highest proportion of slaveholders and slaves in the North, thus ranking Brooklyn high on the moral hypocrisy scale. Yet despite the borough’s unconscionable participation in the institution of slavery, Brooklyn was also home to some of America’s most influential abolitionists.

Drawing upon historical documents from the Brooklyn Historical Society and Weeksville Heritage Center, the Irondale Ensemble is presenting “Color Between the Lines,” a musical that explores our great borough’s ideologically compromised past through a range of both real and fictional characters who fought tirelessly to end slavery. According to Irondale their musical is “the borough’s first public history project to explore the abolitionist movement in Brooklyn.” 

So, in the context of being better a Brooklynite and carrying on the abolitionist legacy of fighting for individual freedoms, I leave you with the same closing line Marty Markowitz used at my high school graduation to help guide us hopefully into the future, ‘May the force be with you!’

“Color Between the Lines” is running from now through May 24 at the Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford St. in Fort Greene. Tickets are available here. $10 tickets are available for Tuesday shows. Otherwise tickets will run you $35.

Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford St., now through May 24. Tickets are $10–35.

Color Between the Lines, Via the Local's Flickr.

Follow Etan: @Brooklynonrye.