new york city landmarks

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For Refinery29’s celebration of Black History Month we put together a list of Black men and women you ought to know. Their legacy in civil rights, feminism, and LGBTQ equality lives on today.

  1. Bayard Rustin — A leading Black figure in the civil rights movement and advisor to Martin Luther King, he was the architect of the 1963 March on Washington and was heavily involved in the first Freedom Rides. He was also gay and a registered communist who went to jail for his sexual orientation. Although widely heralded, he was attacked even by fellow activists for his faith in nonviolence, unapologetic queerness, and attention to income equality. President Obama honored Rustin posthumously with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
  2. Combaheee River Collective — A seminal Black lesbian feminist group active from 1974-1980. Although officially short lived, its influence has been major. The group is best known for writing the Combaheee River Collective Statement, an important document in promoting the idea that social change must be intersectional — and that Black women’s needs were not being met by mainstream white feminism and therefore must strike out on their own. Members of the collective included Audre Lorde and…Chirlane McCray, now First Lady of New York City and author of the landmark essay “I Am a Lesbian,” published in Essence in 1979.
  3. John Carlos, Tommie Smith, and Peter Norman — The winners of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics 200 Meter Sprint. In one of the proudest and most political moments of sports history, John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their leather-gloved fists in the Black Power salute. They wore black socks without shoes to represent black poverty and a scarf and necklace to symbolize “those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.”

    We also include in our list Peter Norman, the white Australian silver medalist from that ceremony, to commemorate his solidarity with the two Black athletes. White people are more than indebted to black history, and Norman is an excellent example of a white ally. Although he didn’t perform the black power salute, he publicly supported the duo without regard to personal safety or retribution. Norman was penalized for his alliance with Carlos and Smith and was never again allowed to compete in any Olympics despite repeatedly qualifying. Largely forgotten and barred from major sporting events, he became a gym teacher and worked at a butcher shop. At his funeral in 2006, John Carlos and Tommie Smith were his pallbearers.
  4. The Friendship Nine — This group of nine Black students from Friendship Junior College willingly went to jail without bail in 1961 after staging a sit-in at McCrory’s lunch counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina. They pioneered the civil rights strategy “Jail, No Bail,” which placed the financial burden for racist incarceration back on the state. They’re appreciated today for their bravery and strategic ingenuity. In 2015 their conviction was finally overturned and prosecutor Kevin Brackett personally apologized to the eight living members of the group.
  5. Barbara Jordan — A lawyer and politician, Barbara Jordan was the first Black woman elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction, the first southern Black woman to be elected as a US Senator, and the first Black woman to deliver a keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. Her keynote address is widely considered the greatest of all time, aided by her charismatic and eloquent public speaking skills. She is also remembered as one of the leaders of the impeachment of Richard Nixon. We chose the above quote to illustrate her unique punchy sense of humor.
  6. Pauli Murray — This civil rights activist, feminist, and poet was a hugely successful lawyer who is also recognized as the first Black female Episcopal priest. Like many figures on this list, Murray was acutely aware of the complex relationship between race and gender, and referred to sexism as “Jane Crow,” comparing midcentury treatment of women to that of African Americans in the South. Although she graduated from Howard University first in her class, she was barred from enrolling as a postgraduate at Harvard because she was a woman. Instead, in 1965 she became the first African American to receive a JSD from Yale Law. Once armed with a law degree she became a formidable force in advancing feminist and civil rights. She is a cofounder of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She also identified as having an “inverted sex instinct,” which she used instead of “homosexual” to describe her complicated gender identity and lifelong attraction to women.
flickr

Benziger House in autumn by Jeff Reuben
Via Flickr:
The Nicholas C. and Agnes Benziger House, located at Edgecombe Avenue and West 150th Street in Harlem, was built in 1891. Its owner was a successful book publisher specializing in Catholic books. Designed by architect Williams Schickel, this house was built in an area that included other mansions, including one by James A. Bailey of circus fame. However the area soon developed with apartment houses, so this building is a vestige of an earlier less urban era in Harlem’s history. (As a point of clarification, this area was in the past considered to be part of Washington Heights, but in our times the dividing line between Harlem and Washington Heights is commonly considered to be 155th Street After the Benzigers sold the house in 1920, it was used as a medical facility for a time and later as a “hotel,” according to some sources, or a brothel according to others. Today, this building is operated by Broadway Housing Communities, a non-profit housing provider, as a residence for formerly homeless single adults. *** “The Benziger House was constructed in 1890-91 in a section of Harlem that still resembled a country village. The house was the residence of Agnes Benziger and her husband Nicholas, a successful publisher, manufacturer and importer of religious books and articles. Designed by the prominent German architect William Schuckel, the mansion features a flared mansard roof pierced by numerous gabled dormers and a richly colored iron-spot brick façade. The building remained in the Benziger family until 1920 when it became part of a medical institution. In 1989, the property was acquired, with support from the City of New York and the Abraham family, to provide permanent housing for homeless adults.” NYC Landmarks Plaque

Longing (part 1)

Originally posted by isaldaria

Summary: Y/n Y/L/n is a recent graduate from New York University and Sam Wilson’s life long best friend. She wrote her dissertation on a new experimental surgery that could alter the brain’s memory and speech patterns, a surgery that she plans to use on one of the most famous men in America: the Winter Soldier. Part 1 follows her plan to get the surgery approved and the first steps in the process to de-Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes.  

Word Count: 7,760 


“Which one, the green one or the beige one?” Y/n asked her best friend, holding up two distinctly different blouses over her bare chest. She had just gotten out of the shower, had her hair up in a towel, and nothing on but black pants and a bra. She quickly interchanged the two shirts. The green one was a sheer, long-sleeved v-neck that she often paired with a scarf, and the beige one was this peasant type shirt that Sam Wilson didn’t completely understand. But he eyed both of them carefully, knowing she needed his honest opinion.

“The beige one. Looks more professional.” He replied, taking a sip from his coffee. She nodded and roughly took the garment off the hanger. She forced the top over her towel headdress, and hurried back to her room when she pulled it over. Sam followed her and watched her open up her large makeup bag. She shuffled around in it. “You nervous?” He asked.

She scoffed, “Nah, I’m just meeting with Tony fucking Stark to propose a new, never been done before surgery to potentially ‘fix’ the guy who killed his parents.”

Y/n Y/l/n was a recent graduate from the New York University medical school; in undergraduate school, she majored in biology and psychology. She graduated top of her class with honors, and she had recently taken the year off to travel with Sam. She wasn’t sure what she was doing with her career currently, but after Sam joined the Avengers, and she heard all the stories about James Buchanan Barnes, she seemed to find her calling. She began her focus on neurological, experimental surgery and developed an idea to try on the cryogenically frozen superhero. After proposing the idea to a professor, getting his approval, and talking it over with Sam, she managed to get an interview with Stark (without the help of Sam). She had been preparing for this interview for weeks, and today was the day. Her nerves were absolutely shot and she felt like throwing up.

She laughed to herself. Despite being best friends with Sam and living with him for the past ten years or so, she hadn’t met a single member of the Avengers other than Steve Rogers. She was studying abroad in Norway when Steve and Natasha came to Sam for help, so she didn’t get to meet them then. She hadn’t met them not because she didn’t want to, but she was always busy when they weren’t, and vice versa. But she was about to meet Tony Stark, and terrified didn’t even begin to explain it.

“I can still come with you.” Sam offered.

She shook her head as she finished putting on mascara. “No, it’s fine. I want to get this because my science is sound, not because I know the right people.” Sam always had connections and was always using them to help her. She was thankful for that, but she wanted to do this on her own. She wanted to feel like she earned it.

Sam yawned loudly and stretched. “Well, I believe in you. I gotta go though.” He wrapped Y/n in a side hug so she wouldn’t have to stop putting on her makeup, and kissed her on the cheek.

“Gotta go play cards with Scott some more, you mean?” She smiled cheekily at him through the mirror. Since they didn’t have any cases currently, all Sam seemed to do was hang around Stark Towers and play cards with Scott Lang. But it paid the bills, and he was happy. After his tour with the army, he was never happy, so it was nice to see him this way.

He shot finger guns at her instead of responding. “Good luck!” He called down from the hallway. Y/n heard the front door open and then close.

Y/n finished her makeup, blow dried her hair, and threw on a pair of black heels. After throwing on a coat and hurriedly locking the door, she walked away from their shared house and headed toward the subway station. She took the train that would lead directly to Stark Towers. The whole ride, she rehearsed her ‘elevator pitch’ to herself over and over until she felt she could say it without shaking.

She exited the subway tunnels and entered the bustling New York City streets. Directly in front of her, was the landmark building- ‘Stark’ was written across the top in large, white letters. The building was a staggering 93-story high skyscraper separated into two sections, and lined with wide, blue windows. Y/n took a deep, shaky breath in and moved toward the door when a familiar hand reached out to grab it for her.

The large figure smiled down at her as he held the door open. Y/n looked up at the blonde-haired man and returned the grin. Steve Rogers was looking dapper as ever in a white t-shirt, black skinny jeans, and leather jacket. Y/n mentally laughed at the Captain America patch on the pocket. He looked healthy, considering everything that had happened recently. She couldn’t help but feel her anxiety wash away as she looked up at her friend. Sam was always the one to make her smile and laugh, but Steve always made her feel safe and at home. Part of it was because they were both from Brooklyn and she felt a sense of home in his presence, but he also saved Y/n’s life a few months back. She trusted him ever since.

“Mornin’ beautiful.” He beamed. His voice was chipper, even for him.

“Back at ya, handsome.” She entered the building and walked with Steve to the front desk. “You’re in a good mood.”

“I had my date last night.” He had been talking about this date with Sharon for weeks, and it had finally happened. Y/n wasn’t entirely sure what happened but it was obviously good.

Y/n smiled and gasp lightly, “Yay, finally! I can’t wait to hear all about it. You seein’ her again soon?” She handed the receptionist her I.D.

“What brings you here today?” The receptionist asked.

“Tomorrow night.” Steve replied at the same time.

“Oh fun!” She said to Steve first, and then turned to the receptionist, “I have a meeting with Tony Stark at 9:00.” The receptionist ran her name through the computer, printed out a fancy I.D. badge, and handed the badge and her license back to Y/n. Y/n thanked the woman, and walked toward the elevators with Steve.

“Meeting for what?” He raised an eyebrow and pressed the up button. Y/n swallowed; she hadn’t told Steve about the operation yet because she didn’t want to get his hopes up if she couldn’t fix his best friend. Y/n mulled over whether to answer the question truthfully or not. She didn’t want to mention Bucky, only for Stark to say no.

She cleared her throat, “Uh, I wanted to talk to him about a possible internship.” It wasn’t a total lie. After that, she acted like she was too busy marveling the beauty of the building to answer in depth; again, not a total lie. The lobby was enough to take anyone’s breath away; it had vaulted ceilings, flying buttresses, and all the latest technology displayed on all the walls. The Stark Tower was very much like the old S.H.I.E.L.D tower, except it was a bit smaller and fewer people traveled in and out the doors. Even the elevator was awe inspiring with its glass walls.

“I looked just like that when I first came here.” Steve whispered to her on the packed elevator.

Y/n made light conversation with Steve the rest of the way up. They talked about Steve’s date a little and whether they were going to do their weekly Monday lunch with Sam or not. They agreed that they would, and that she’d meet him on the 60th floor after her interview. He got off and wished her luck. Once he was gone, her anxiety returned immediately, and only rose as the elevator did.

On the 93rd floor, she exited the elevator and entered a waiting room type area. At the front desk sat a brunette woman, who Y/n informed that she was here to meet with Mr. Stark. The receptionist replied curtly, “He’s very busy. Impress him in the first minute or he won’t hear you out.” Y/n nodded, swallowed the lump in her throat, and took a seat. She drummed the folder in her lap with her fingers and bounced her leg up and down. Five minutes passed when the elevator doors opened up and the infamous Tony Stark marched out. He was wearing a tight, black suit; his face was clean shaven despite a few scraps from a possibly recent battle. He said hello to his receptionist and hesitated when he saw Y/n.

She stood up and stuck her hand out to shake his. “Who’s this?” He asked.

“Your nine o’clock, sir.” The receptionist replied.

“Also known as Y/n Y/l/n…sir.” Y/n blushed slightly.

Stark eyed her up and down before turning on his heel. “Y/n, I’m sorry but I don’t have a lot of time. Talk fast.”

Y/n began to panic. Everything she had planned to say was thrown out the window. She stuttered along her words as she tried to follow Stark as best as she could. “I think I uh-” As they walked, several assistants came up to Stark and asked him to sign here, initial there, smile at the camera, etc. Y/n recognized one of the women as Pepper Potts, Tony Stark’s girlfriend. Y/n couldn’t seem to get a word in. “I spoke with my former research professor and-” Y/n stammered as she was interrupted by more people. Stark held up a finger at her to tell her to wait. Y/n could feel her panic and anger rising. He was being completely unprofessional and Y/n did not appreciate it.  

She stopped walking and realized Stark didn’t even know she wasn’t following. He was continuing on farther into the distance. Y/n swallowed her pride, gathered her breath, and shouted over the noise and chatter, “I found a way to fix Bucky!”

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