At her Global Citizen Live concert in Central Park over the weekend, Lizzo educated her fans about Seneca Village.
Over the weekend, Lizzo performed at Global Citizen Live in New York City's Central Park. Instead of just focusing on her music, the 'Truth Hurts' singer used the opportunity to educate her fans about the Park's racist history. Before Central Park was created, the area along what is now the Park’s perimeter from West 82nd to West 89th Street was the site of Seneca Village, a thriving community of predominantly Black folks, many of whom owned property. New York City acquired the land through eminent domain, a law that permits the government to take private land for public use with compensation paid to the landowner. During her performance, Lizzo shared this knowledge with concert-goers.
"I have to shout out that the land we’re standing on is Seneca Village," she announced to the crowd that had gathered for the concert. "Before it was Central Park it was Seneca Village—and if you don’t know what that is, it was an affluent African-American community that lived here. And they were evicted and bulldozed, so [the city] could build this park." As many as 225 residents, made up of roughly two-thirds African-Americans, one-third Irish immigrants, and a small number of individuals of German descent, resided in Seneca Village by 1855. They were displaced when New York City planning for what is now Central Park, a large municipal park to counter unhealthful urban conditions and provide space for recreation. Although Black homeowners were paid to relocate from Seneca Village, many believe their properties were undervalued. Experts claim some residents may have moved to other African-American communities in the region, such as Sandy Ground in Staten Island and Skunk Hollow in New Jersey, but research is presently underway to determine exactly where Seneca Village residents relocated.
Lizzo continued, "As we talk about climate change and making the world a better place and solving homelessness, we also have to talk about the institutionalized racism that happens in this country all the time. Now I’m a rich b*tch, that’s exciting, that’s never happened. I’ll be like, ‘What kind of rich bitch do I want to be?’ And I decided I want to be a philanthropist. I want to give back. Why would God give me so much if I can’t give it back? So thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to give back." In the past, the artist has used her platform to highlight issues of body-shaming and institutionalized misogynoir against Black women in the music industry.
Thank you, @Lizzo for shining a light on this important history! Here’s more info on Seneca Village, uncovered by scholars & the Conservancy, about the community: https://t.co/v0S3XDpt1h https://t.co/FUSVtd4meG— Central Park (@CentralParkNYC) September 26, 2021
"And if we don’t talk about our history constructively, how can we build a better future?" She affirmed. "It’s time to talk about things, and it’s time to make a change. And it starts within. You got to better to yourself, so you can be better to others." Following her performance, she took to Twitter to reiterate her statement. Lizzo posted, "Performing literally on the same land that was called Seneca Village—a Black community demolished to make Central Park... It's time to talk about it."
Thank You @Lizzo for letting the Central Park crowd know about Seneca Village, a thriving Black community that was evicted and houses bulldozed to create Central Park …. #GlobalCitizenLive should mention that annually!— Ebro (@oldmanebro) September 26, 2021
Lizzo fans also posted about her statements on Twitter. One fan wrote, "Big ups to Lizzo for letting the whole world know that the concert wasn’t just in Central Park but that Black people used to live there. Seneca Village." Another added, "Lizzo talking about Seneca Village during her Central Park performance... Good lord, I love this woman." If you would like to learn more about Seneca Village, you can visit Central Park's official website here.
AS WE TALK ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, SOLVING HOMELESSNESS, AND MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.. WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE INSTITUTIONALIZED RACISM THAT HAPPENS IN THIS COUNTRY ALL THE TIME.— ALL THE RUMORS ARE TRUE (@lizzo) September 26, 2021
Have you been to a Lizzo show? #Liztalk pic.twitter.com/43x0XqzIuz