There are more than a handful of moments in history that helped make up some of the freedoms that many of us enjoy.

"'New York State Anti-Slavery Society is hereby established.' Bang goes the gavel; boom goes the door. The door is open to the mob [that] enters," says retired professor and avid Central New York historian Jan Deamicis.

Deamicis was outlining one of those critical moments in our neck of the woods: the Utica Riot of 1835. Utica itself was becoming a city on the forefront of equality and the abolishment of slavery at that time. But when the call went out to hold the first meeting of the New York State Anti-Slavery Society, chaos ensued.

"It drew such resistance that it said, 'we're not going to let you meet here. You're going to have to find someplace else,' and that's how they ended up in the Presbyterian Church on Bleecker Street," added Deamicis, pointing to a display at the Oneida County Historical Center to dowtown Utica. "Right on this corner is where that church was - a pretty interesting structure - and they could fit 600 people in there."

The co-chair of the Oneida County Freedom Trail Commission explained that among the attendees was a wealthy man by the name of Gerritt Smith, whose original idea on ending slavery was to colonize parts of Africa and send freed slaves back, but history took a fateful turn.

On a cold, wet October morning in 1835, 600 people were rushed by an angry mob out of the Presbyterian Church. Their trail now begins to Peterboro. Allies and proponents of the abolition movement found themselves under attack in Utica and drove 27 miles west on a path that was less than friendly.

"None of this was paved. To think it was raining for a good deal of the time and, I think it was November, it's muddy and gunky and there was a hard way to travel back. It sure was," noted Deamicis along that historic path where a group of Indigenous people called "The Brothertown Indians" helped some make it along those 27 miles.

More than 300 made their way in, while the convention was made official back in Utica 24 hours later.

"So I think it was a sense of achievement -- 'damn the mob. Here we are,' " said Deamicis.

Utica's Patrick Johnson specializes in race relations and public outreach from the Oneida County District Attorney's office. He notes that this lesser known event is interesting enough to learn about, but that it's unfortunate many are just hearing it for the first time.

"For kids that are going to grow up and go out into the world, you're going to have to engage with people that don't look like you," said Johnson.

He added it's not just youth learning about the area for the first time, but countless adults who need to take a look at the bigger picture from the 1800s to right now.

"If we are going to emerge to be at our best, it's imperative that we have these conversations that sometimes might be uncomfortable," said Johnson. "It's not only what we learned about other people in history, but the more we learn about those things - we learned more about ourselves. Understanding the history of slavery in the oppression of American Indians and Black people is critical. It's often what we don't know that hurts us."