The Hidden History of Wall Street's Slave Market

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Most people think of the New York Stock Exchange when they think of Wall Street in Manhattan’s financial district.

The stock market at the exchange was built, like much of New York in the 18th century, on the back of the African slave trade economy.

On December 14, 1711, a law passed by the New York City Common Council made Wall Street the city’s first official slave market for the sale and rental of enslaved Africans and Native Americans.

The slave market stretched from Pearl Street to Water Street. At the time, Water Street was located on the edge of pre-dredged lower-Manhattan. Today, the only reminder of Wall Street’s history in the slave trade is a small plaque at the bottom of Wall Street that was dedicated in 2015.

The market operated between 1711 and 1762 and New York City remained a key hub for the flesh trade through the 1850s, but its legacy has been buried so deep that most people don’t even know it existed.

TheStreet visited this site to shed some light on the legacy of slavery in the financial district and how it played a role in shaping New York City into what it is today.

TheStreet's Special Report: Black History, Wall Street & Beyond is a month-long series that is taking a look at historical moments and leaders both past and present who are reshaping business as usual on and off Wall Street. 

In addition to historical videos, TheStreet's Tony Owusu will also have a series of reports extending from Wall Street to the Sports World.

Owusu has a series of interviews focusing on minority-owned private equity firms. Plus, more from the video series The Sport of Money; interviews include athletes like Terrell Davis, a two-time NFL champion, and Hall of Famer.

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Watch: How to Break Diversity Barriers on Wall Street

TheStreet's Anuz Thapa will introduce viewers to the next generation of leaders, like Lauren Simmons, the youngest female trader at the New York Stock Exchange.

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