Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn facing uncertain future

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Often called Brooklyn's best kept secret, the Weeksville Heritage Center sits on a quiet plot of land - the crown jewel of the Hunterfly Road Houses.

In 1838, it was where free black people settled - a community which grew to more than 500 people, making it one of the largest of its kind in the country in the pre-Civil War era.

"What it is, is an example of black self-determination, black entrepreneurship and black land and home ownership," said Weeksville Heritage Center Rob Fields.

Fields runs the center, which is facing an uncertain future. The first sign of fiscal trouble was in January, when much-needed grants dropped off.

Still a temporary lifeline, a recent online campaign raised more than $250,000 in just eight days.

"It gives ups time to plan and figure out how we can make it, so Weeksville is never in this position again," added Fields.

There is now a major push by many at City Hall to get Mayor Bill de Blasio to add Weeksville to the cultural institutions group, which would guarantee city funding.

This year, the city set aside roughly $450,000 for Weeksville. Council Speaker Corey Johnson says that is not enough.

"Too often when we talk about American history, we talk about white American history. Weeksville shows black American history like nowhere else in our entire city," Johnson said.

As it stands, only 33 institutions make up the group, including the Met - the last time an institution was added was 1998.

"It would say to the world that the City of New York sees Weeksville as an important historical site, that it's worth preserving, because what you fund - it says what's important to you," says Fields.

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