NYC RollerSkate Week aims to connect civil rights movement, roller skating

The African-American Roller-Skate Museum is holding its inaugural "NYC RollerSkate Week," which includes 14 unique events that range from free lessons to a look at the historical connection between roller skating and the civil rights movement.

"I think creating an institution is an opportunity to not just amplify and represent the culture, but to preserve it, to archive it and to serve as a base and a foundation that will continue to educate people now in generations in the future."

Founding Director Jocelyn Marie Goode spent the first 20 years of her career as a visual arts educator and designer but the pandemic hit she found many of her outlets for expression were shut down until she was invited to a skate party in December.

"For the first time, I saw black people happy, skating around grooving. And I was like, I'm here," says Goode. "Like these people have found a way to continue to be happy and to express themselves. And that's important to me. So I took up skating at the end of last year. And that's what inspired me. It's not just about roller skating, but it's about how roller skating intersects with hip hop, DJs, roller dance, roller derby, etc."   

The museum was founded by Goode in February and is seeking public city, state, and national funds to support the return of roller-skating rinks in public spaces.  

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 "In the last 30 years, you've seen a shutdown of so many rinks.  In New York City, there aren't any roller skating rinks, except for one in Staten Island and for a city like New York--that's really mind-blowing," adds Goode. "So there really is a need to create those spaces. And the reason I advocate for public spaces--it's about accessibility.  If the city can have swimming pools and skateboarding and ice skating--why can't we have roller skating? This museum is showing that it's a worthy cause and the demand is definitely there."       

The events run through April 30th and are being held at and in collaboration with Showfield's -- an innovative art, entertainment, and retail space in lower manhattan that seeks to amplify the voices of both black and female creators.