In the spring of 1811, the Albany Common Council banned Pinkster Day celebrations because of “rioting and drunkenness.” Two centuries later, in an effort to revive a tradition from Albany’s past, members of the University Club petitioned the Common Council to repeal the prohibition. The Pinkster ban was lifted on May 16, 2011.
On Friday, June 3, the Club will welcome award-winning author Scott Christianson to its 6th Annual Pinkster Celebration at the National Register-listed University Club of Albany. Scott Christianson, Ph.D. is an award-winning author of several distinguished non-fiction books, as well as a journalist, criminologist, historian, filmmaker, teacher and human rights activist.
Christianson will discuss New York’s history of slavery and abolitionism through the life of a man known only as “Caesar.” He lived his entire life on a colonial estate in Albany County, and was the last known living slave north of the Mason-Dixon line. He is believed to be the last person in New York to die in bondage in 1852, although slavery ended in New York on July 4, 1827. Caesar is buried in the cemetery of the Nicoll-Sill House in Bethlehem.
In addition to the presentation on Caesar, Christianson will sign copies of two of his books, Freeing Charles: The Struggle to Free a Slave on the Eve of the Civil War (University of Illinois Press; January 22, 2010) and 100 Documents That Changed the World: From the Magna Carta to Wikileaks (Universe; November 10, 2015).
“Freeing Charles” recounts the life and rescue of captured fugitive slave Charles Nalle of Culpeper, Virginia, who was forcibly liberated by Harriet Tubman and others in Troy on April 27, 1860. It follows Nalle from his enslavement by the Hansborough family in Virginia through his escape by the Underground Railroad and his experiences in the North on the eve of the Civil War. His account underscores fundamental questions about racial inequality, the rule of law, civil disobedience, and violent resistance to slavery in the antebellum North and South.
100 Documents that Changed the World offers a tour through history via declarations, manifestos, and agreements from the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence to Wikileaks. This collection gathers the most significant written documents that have influenced and shaped the way we think about the world and the course of history.
The University Club’s first Pinkster Celebration featured readings from four centuries of scholarly and popular publications documenting the people and places of New York’s capital city. In 2012, the University Club Foundation welcomed Albany’s own Pulitzer Prize-winning author, William Kennedy. The featured speaker for 2013 was Stefan Bielinski, the director of the Colonial Albany History Project. In 2014 award-winning journalist and author Paul Grondahl discussed These Exalted Acres: Unlocking the Secrets of Albany Rural Cemetery; and in 2015 the Club hosted a 5th Anniversary Pinkster Celebration Concert with singer songwriter Beth Wood.
The Pinkster Celebration will feature a cocktail reception with light fare and cash bar from 6 – 7 pm, followed by a presentation by Christianson. When the reception wraps up at 8 pm, Pinkster revelers are invited to head downstairs for an after-party in the Grille Room with
The Greater Love Combo, performing classic, up-tempo jazz. On the first Friday of each month, the University Club serves as a venue for 1st Friday, the downtown arts walk that showcases Albany’s thriving and lively art scene.
Tickets for the Pinkster Celebration are $40 per person. Reservations are required and may be made by calling the University Club at (518) 414-3555 or by clicking here.