African Grove Theater: The First Black Theater in New York City


Founded and operated by William Alexander Brown, a free black man from the West Indies. It opened six years before the final abolition of slavery in New York state (gradual abolition brought it to an end in 1827, but young people born to slave mothers had to serve apprenticeships to age 21). The African Grove Theatre was attended by "all types of black New Yorkers -- free and slave, middle-class and working-class" along with others. It was the first place where Ira Aldridge, who would later become an esteemed and renowned Shakespearian actor, first saw a production of a Shakespeare play.

Founded, 1821