John Brown Russwurm, abolitionist, publisher

John Brown Russwurm (1799–1851) was an abolitionist, newspaper publisher, and colonizer of Liberia where he moved from the United States.  He moved from Maine to New York City, where he was a founder with Samuel Cornish of the abolitionist newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, the first paper owned and operated by African Americans. Mr. Russwurm was born in Jamaica to an English Merchant and an enslaved woman. He was sent to Quebec when he was young for his education. He reunited with his father in 1812 and moved to Maine with his father and stepmother. The stepmother kept him with the family after the death of his father in 1815. He… Read More

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Reverend Howard Moody, Advocate for many

The Rev. Howard R. Moody (1921 – 2012)  the longtime minister of the historic Judson Memorial Church, hurled himself and his Greenwich Village congregation into roiling social issues. He began preaching at the age of 5 on a milk crate in TX and continued his ministry until his retirement from Judson Church in Greenwich Village in 1992. He moved to NYC in 1957 as a senior pastor at Judson Church. He assisted all types of people with their needs. He helped women get safe abortions before they were legal. He worked with prostitutes, giving them advice, council and cookies. He… Read More

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Liz Christy, community garden builder

Liz Christy was a founder of the urban community garden group, Green Guerillas. She was the first Director of the Council on the Environment, in New York City’s Open Space Greening Program and LCBH garden was the first winner of the American Forestry Association’s ‘Urban Forestry Award.’ In 1973, Liz Christy and a group of gardening activists were planting window boxes, vacant lots with ‘seed bombs’ and tree pits in the area. They saw the large rubble-strewn lot as a potential garden and in December went to the City to find a way to gain official use of the land. Volunteers… Read More

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Felix Adler, founder NY Society for Ethical Culture

Felix Adler (1851 – 1933) was a professor of political and social ethics, rationalist, influential lecturer on euthanasia, religious leader and social reformer who founded the Ethical Culture movement. Born in Germany, his family immigrated to the United States when he was 6 years old. He studied at Columbia University and continued his education at Heidelberg University in Germany. There he was strongly influenced by neo-Kantianism, especially the notions that one cannot prove or disprove the existence of a deity or immortality, and that morality can be established independently of theology. After realizing being a rabbi was not for him, he entered academia, teaching at Cornell University. In 1876 , he gave a lecture on doing away… Read More

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Bob Spike, Civil Rights Activist

Robert Warren Spike (1923 – 1966) was a clergyman, theologian, and civil rights leader. Born in Buffalo, NY, he came to NYC while studying for the ministry. He began his career as pastor at the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village in 1949, reviving the social activism of this famous urban church. During his time at the church, neighborhood kids played basketball in the church’s ramshackle gym and an interracial, international residence for students was established. Spike also helped to create an art gallery where artists could exhibit their unconventional works. In 1958 Spike left his parish ministry to take on a national role as General… Read More

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Edward Judson, Baptist Minister in Greenwich Village

Edward Judson (1844-1914) was a Baptist clergyman. He started his work in the Baptist church in Orange NJ, but ended at the Berean Church, later as the Memorial Baptist, and finally as the Judson Memorial. The church is located on the South Side of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Minister Judson was very successful in recruiting people to the Berean Church after the Civil War that a larger space became necessary. In 1888, with the backing of John D. Rockefeller and other prominent Baptists, construction of the church on the south side of the park was begun. The church building was designed by architect Stanford White, with stained-glass windows by John La… Read More

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William Leggett, writer, Evening Post

William Leggett (April 30, 1801 – May 29, 1839) was an American poet, fiction writer, and journalist. He was a New Yorker who attended Georgetown and then entered the military. His time in the military didn’t agree with him and he was court martialed for “dueling on duty”. Upon leaving the navy, he returned to New York City in 1826 and began writing. Leggett became a theater critic at the New York Mirror and assistant editor of the short-lived Merchants’ Telegraph. In November 1828, he founded the Critic, a literary journal that lasted only a few months. In the summer of 1829, however, William Cullen Bryant… Read More

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