Cheyney McKnight Creates Evening Program Focused on the African American Experience in 19th Century New York.


Twenty-Five Students from Africa Studying at Wagner College Visit Historic Richmond Town for New Evening Focus Tour.

Living historian and material culture researcher Cheyney McKnight created and led a new evening program focused on the African-American experience in Colonial and Victorian America. She presented her research to a group of 25 members of the Wagner College Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) program who are visiting from Africa and studying on Staten Island. The Wagner YALI Fellows will be part of a larger group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows, hosted at 27 institutions across the United States this summer.

The evening program focused on the everyday lives of African-Americans, both enslaved and free, on Staten Island in the 18th and 19th centuries. McKnight researched and created a series of traditional African dishes, including Jollof rice, in the open-hearth kitchen of the historic Guyon-Lake-Tysen farmhouse.

"The tour of the village gave the Mandela Fellows a perfect overview of early American life on Staten Island. Cheyney McKnight's cooking demonstration was a highlight," said Claire Regan, the Fellows' host form Wagner College.

McKnight will continue her culinary and cultural research at Historic Richmond Town this summer, using the site’s multi-era farmhouses as her living lab. There, she will interpret period documentation and experiment with folk ways and methods of food preparation common in the early America.