School Tours & Visits

“The struggle to maintain a democratic society is one of our greatest challenges we face as a people. One important function of the Jay Heritage Center [is] to remind Americans of the struggles of the framers of the constitution and the courts and to connect those struggles with present day concerns about civil rights and civil liberties. The Center thus becomes a forum for creative problem solving and the exploration of difficult issues that effect each of our lives.”Gretchen Sullivan Sorin

"It is much to be wished that slavery may be abolished. The honour of the States, as well as justice and humanity, in my opinion, loudly call upon them to emancipate these unhappy people. To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused."

John Jay, March 15, 1786

“Striving for Freedom” is an acclaim winning interactive theater program developed by the Jay Heritage Center for schools. This tableau performance fits well into any 4th through 8th grade social studies curriculum but can also be adapted for high school students, adults and community organizations. It examines the often ignored existence of slavery in the Northern States. Created specifically for our landmark site where enslaved families  are known to have lived, worked and been freed, it tells the story of the reunion of two sisters Mary and Clarinda who were separated when young and owned by different members of the Jay family.

The program is offered for FREE to all schools. We are enormously grateful for funding which is provided in part through a grant by Con Edison.

“I consider education to be the soul of the republic,”

– John Jay to Benjamin Rush.

“I wish to see all unjust and all unnecessary discriminations everywhere abolished, and that the time may soon come when all our inhabitants of every colour and denomination shall be free and equal partakers of our political liberty.” – March 24, 1785

Both John Jay and his son Peter Augustus Jay argued for the emancipation of enslaved people and each served as President of the New York Manumission Society. In raising his children, Jay made very clear to his sons

“Providence has placed these Persons in Stations below us. They are Servants but they are Men.” 

Educational Programs from the Jay Heritage Center

Striving for Freedom: The Jay Family & Manumission

Before You Visit

For more information on the Westchester County African American Heritage Trail, access the brochure by clicking here.

Program: Museum Theatre

Your class will come to the Jay Heritage Center where students will participate in an interactive theatre performance followed by a discussion period.  Set in 1813, the vignette examines the lives of two Jay family slaves, Clarinda and Mary, as well as the ways in which they and the Jay family resisted slavery.  Program includes tours of the 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House and grounds and our site-orientation exhibit, “The Design of Providence.”  Lunch options are available. Teachers receive pre- and post-visit materials. Classes as large as 150 students (seating is amphitheatre style in the Carriage House) can be accommodated and smaller groups are welcome as well.

Plan Your Trip

This Program is FREE. Title 1 schools may also qualify for FREE transportation to the Jay Estate through a grant administered by NY State Parks. These programs have been made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a New York State Agency and through a generous grant from Con Edison.

Teachers and schools interested in seeing and participating in this program can contact Barbara Specht at (914) 698-9275. We can accommodate classes as large as 150 students (seating is amphitheatre style in the Carriage House); smaller groups are welcome as well.

For more information and to schedule a program, contact

Help Us Expand Our Impact!

Goal: Every Friday, 150 Kids at the Jay Estate

If we had the funding, we would have school visits every Friday of the calendar year. Help us make that happen by donating to our team effort

50 Schools in 1 Amazing Year! on Crowdrise