Screenshot of the Peace Trail Map of New York City. Courtesy of the students and professors from the Fall 2016 Justice and Rights Movements class at NYU.

In Fall 2016, students from the Justice and Rights Movements class at New York University under the tutelage of Professors Joyce Apsel and Michael Dinwiddie, supported by a co-teaching grant from the NYU Humanities Center, created a peace trail map of New York City.

On the map, students chose 27 spots across the city associated with significant moments and people in the city’s and world’s history who played important roles in movements for freedom, justice, and peace. The information below comes largely from the meticulous research done by the students. 

International Day of Peace, also known as Peace Day, is celebrated worldwide every September 21. Established by the United Nations in 1981, it is a day meant to put aside difference to celebrate peace across humanity. This year’s theme is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All,” with an emphasis on support for refugees and migrants.

We chose 10 of the 27 spots on the peace trail map of NYC to honor the places and people that invoke peace and celebrate diversity throughout the city.

10. Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights

Plymouth Church in Brooklyn played a part in the Underground Railroad.

Erected in 1849, Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights was once a part of the Underground Railroad  under the care of Henry Ward Beecher, the brother of abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe. It was known as “The Grand Depot,” as slaves were hidden within the tunnels of the church’s basement.

Beecher often freed slaves during mock slave auctions at the church, and famously freed nine-year-old slave girl Sally Maria Diggs, known as “Pinky” after raising $900 with the donation of a gold ring. Plymouth Church is also notable for its famous speakers, including Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., who gave an early version of his “I Have a Dream Speech” at the pulpit.

Interestingly, Plymouth Church is named for the original Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, a piece of which resides in this church.