Professor Nestor Davidson shares his expert opinion with Bloomberg on a lawsuit over the landmark preservation of a building in Brooklyn with ties to the Underground Railroad.
As protesters demand a national reckoning on America’s whitewashed history, activists are rallying around a former abolitionists’ home in downtown Brooklyn with ties to the Underground Railroad as a chance to diversify historic preservation. High-profile endorsements to designate the building with landmark status, including by Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Attorney General Letitia James, have bolstered a campaign by activists that goes back 16 years.
But Nestor Davidson, the faculty director of the Urban Law Center at Fordham University School of Law, said if the building were landmarked, there are many foundations and nonprofit organizations that would work to preserve a high-profile property like this one. “Especially in the moment we’re in, I would imagine that there would be a lot of energy around keeping the building in a condition in a way that does honor the history that it represents,” he said. “And I would hope that the end result would be what the process is designed to do, which is it would be preserved.” Advocates and elected officials, like City Councilmember Stephen Levin, have also called for city funds to preserve the building and turn it into a museum.