Digital History

The Washington Business Institute, affectionately known as WBI, was one of the first, if not the first, schools in New York City to offer full business programs to any student regardless of race. WBI graduates, the vast majority of them Black women, racially integrated clerical work in New York, reshaping the economics, politics, and culture of the region. 

This tour follows a group of under-recognized Chinese American civil rights activists who fought exclusion and discrimination in Greenwich Village in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While these activists mostly lost their campaigns for racial equality, their efforts reshaped American law, politics, and society in ways that remain with us today.

My great-grandfather, Timothy Hayes, was born in Red Hook to Irish immigrants in 1890. Plotting their journey onto a 1879 birds-eye view of Brooklyn gives a sense of how the family and other immigrants like them navigated their way in late 19th-century America.