Dis-membering Stonewall: an excerpt from the forthcoming "Love, Christopher Street: Reflections of New York City"

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Dis-membering Stonewall: an excerpt from the forthcoming "Love, Christopher Street: Reflections of New York City"

started beating on them.” “Nate,” Cissy cried out to her husband, “what we gonna to do?” Someone from the crowd shouted, “Let’s go whip their flat white asses!” Laughter erupted from the crowd, but so too a volley of humorous and heated insults about the NYPD.

“WE GOT TO ACT. DAMNIT! We got to act—right now!” Dupree stomped his foot and gave a Black Power fist salute.

Heads nodded in agreement as noisy anger rose from the crowd and fighting alliances formed. More people poured onto the street as news spread. The Jenkins boys pounded their drums in a whip­ping beat, raising a fierce rage and collective resolve.

”Where in the fuck is this bar?” someone else from the crowd shouted.

“Some place called Greenwich Village,” Dupree shouted above the noise.

“You mean upstate New York?” someone questioned.

“I ain’t got no car,” another voice shouted.

“Ain’t that Connecticut?” someone else shouted

“I still ain’t got no car,” shouted the familiar voice.

“No, dumb ass. It’s someplace in lower Manhattan,” Dupree, annoyed, shouted back to whomever asked the question.

Less than twelve hours ago was the last day of school and none of us school kids could have expected to be in another riot so soon, and especially outside of Brooklyn. Very few of us that night would have known of Greenwich Village, not only because of the insularity of our neighborhoods, but also because of our undisclosed history and impermanent residency in the Village.

GREENWICH VILLAGE IN THE 1800s had housed the largest population for former slaves in the country. “Little Africa,” the area around Bleecker, MacDougal, Sullivan, and Thompson Streets established the country’s first Black newspaper, Freedom’s Journal (1827-1829), and first Black theater, the African Grove (1821-1823).

But gentrification forced racial relocation and led to Harlem becom­ing the Mecca of Black America.

On the surface, the Village appeared then and appears to this day to be a site of easy racial and social coexistence. Its worldly repu­tation as an artists’ enclave, a Bohemian hot spot, and a gay refuge of progressive thinkers and cultural tolerance already attracted people worldwide. And for African Americans running away from the sting­ing indignities of Jim Crow America and the religious homophobia of the Black Church, it brought hope. But the Village’s entrenched milieu of race and class elite liberalism relegated Blacks to the mar­gins of the community.

For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,