A Feminist Walk Through Harlem: Celebrating Remarkable Women
How do we honor Black and Latina women? How do we preserve their legacy? 2020 marks the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage, but Black women’s contributions to the movement largely go uncelebrated, and most Black women in America could not vote until 1965. As the city and the nation confront issues of representation and equity in public commemoration, and to build on FRIENDS’ discussion of the Women’s Right Pioneers Monument in Central Park, please join FRIENDS of the Upper East Side and Save Harlem Now! for a virtual walk through Harlem. The tour will focus on sites publicly celebrating pioneering Black and Latina women, and issues surrounding the preservation of such sites. Tour guide Leigh Hallingby, of Harlem Walks, will explore the neighborhood murals, mosaics, plaques, and other forms of public commemoration honoring such pioneers as Vivian Robinson, Ella Fitzgerald, Madam C.J. Walker, Billie Holiday, Mother Clara Hale, Ruby Dee, Lois Alexander, Mary McLeod Bethune, Julia de Burgos, A’Lelia Walker, Nicholasa Mohr, and Zora Neale Hurston.
The week after election day HNBA will hold its November meeting on Tuesday, November 10th at 7 PM.
We are looking forward to a fantastic lineup of guests, the first of which will be representatives from Chase bank who will talk about helping Harlem residents achieve home ownership, including:
Applying for a mortgage Available Grants to help with the down payment 2-4 unit properties – using rental income to qualify Multiple borrowers on one application Is now the time to refi? Pluses and minuses Working with a realtor Single-family Multi-family with rental income Market Condo Deed restricted condo Market co-op HDFC co-op
We will then meet Tali Farhadian Weinstein who is running for Manhattan DA. https://www.taliforda.com/ Tali and her staff recently join in on a walking tour of 125th Street from Lenox to Lexington to see first hand some of the major struggles we have with quality of life and small business development.
Tali Farhadian Weinstein is a prosecutor, a professor, and a proven criminal justice reformer. She is also an immigrant, a daughter, a wife, and the mother of three girls.
Lastly, Jana La Sorte from the NYC Parks Department will join us. Jana is the new administrator for the four Historic Harlem Parks — Jackie Robinson, Marcus Garvey, Morningside and St. Nicholas — that advocates for and supports the unique history and character of each park and their future development to better serve the greater Harlem community.
If you are a member of HNBA (Join Here) and would like to join in this exciting conversation on the 10th, email Shawn for the zoom link.
DWB (Driving While Black)
Join the New York & Virtual Premiere of dwb (driving while black) this evening until October 29th.
dwb (driving while black) isa new chamber opera about racism, erasure, and the fear and love that black parents experience when they send their kids out into a world that too often sees them not as a child, but as a threat. This powerful music-drama documents the all-too-familiar story of an African American parent whose beautiful brown boy approaches driving age. What should be a celebration of independence and maturity turns out to be fraught with the anxiety of “driving while black.”
“One of the most singularly devastating theatrical moments of the last year.” –The Pitch
“A composer of vivid imagination and skill” —Fanfare
“Singers are storytellers,” says soprano/librettist Roberta Gumbel (“silver voiced…” – The New York Times), “but rarely do we get the opportunity to help create the stories we are telling.” Collaborating with composer Susan Kander and the cutting-edge duo New Morse Code (“Clarity of artistic vision and near-perfect synchronicity.” icareifyoulisten.com), this brief, powerful music-drama documents the all-too-familiar story of an African-American parent whose “beautiful brown boy” approaches driving age as, what should be a celebration of independence and maturity is fraught with the anxiety of driving while black.
Roberta Gumbel, librettist/soprano Susan Kander, composer Chip Miller, director New Morse Code– Hannah Collins (cello) and Michael Compitello (percussion)
Michelle Obama, First Lady of The United States of America:
An American Street Mural in Harlem
Harlem Park to Park – https://harlemparktopark.org/ – has a great teaser video out on the project to create the Black Lives Matter mural on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd this past summer.
The plan is to expand the project to produce a 40 minute video for the film festival circuit
As Patch.com notes:
While the film mostly follows the mural as it is created in real-time, Okera said it is informed by Harlem’s creative legacy stemming from the Great Migration, in which thousands of Black people settled here in the early 20th century after fleeing racial terrorism in the South — a process that led to the neighborhood’s flourishing during the Harlem Renaissance.
“We belong to that legacy — those refugees from terror that became Harlem residents,” Okera said. “The legacy they left was to enjoy that rich cultural mecca that has been Harlem for the last 100 years.”
The film’s launch will coincide with a yearlong series of programming that will be announced on the documentary’s website, americanstreetmuralinharlem.com. Those interested in supporting the film can donate online, where they can receive memorabilia including posters and T-Shirts of the mural.
The goal of the film is simple, Evans-Hendricks said: “to show our community matters, Harlem matters, has always mattered.”
LISC Small Business Relief & Recovery Program – East and Central Harlem
Apply for the New York City-based small, minority-owned businesses seeking direct relief grant funding through the LISC NYC Small Business Relief & Recovery Fund.
Each grant is limited to one grant per individual and business tax ID. Awards will be made to qualified businesses, and eligibility is based on accurate and complete submission.
This business grant application requires that business owners of at least 51% ownership identify as minority owners. Note: Certification as a minority and/or women owned business enterprise (MWBE) is not required to apply.
All awardees will have to certify that they are promoting the best interests of the community and are negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Nonprofit organizations are ineligible for this application.
There is a great new map out that attempts to show the where the First People of North America lived pre-1492. The difficulty of representing the fluidity of boundaries is, of course, present here, but we are at least presented with fact that the United States was not an unoccupied space, ready for frictionless colonization.
In the screenshot below you can see how our region was the site of a dense, tightly intertwined network of cultural and linguistic groups.
Getting closer in, the island of Mannahatta was inhabited and used by two groups. The indigenous nation which fished, farmed, hunted, and lived on northern Mannahatta – in what is now Harlem – was the Wappinger Munsee Lenape
And the language spoken here before the Dutch arrived was Montauk huluniixsuwaakan, a variant of Munsee.
To see the full map which covers North American and Australia, and parts of other regions, click here: https://native-land.ca/
The Harlem African Burial Ground development project has been put on hold and as a consequence, the abandoned MTA bus depot that currently occupies the site remains shuttered. In the past, however, this site has also been the location for a film studio.
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio was located between 126/127th and 2nd Avenue and the Willis Avenue Bridge on part, but not all, of the bus depot’s block.
The photo (above) is a 1940’s tax photo of the property. Note the water tower and the large ceremonial towers that would have been dramatically visible to riders on the 2nd Avenue El (the train tracks you see at the top left of the photo).
While this location had advantages in terms of its proximity to transportation and downtown NYC, the ever present roar of the El just outside the front doors must have been a huge impediment to sound recording.
By the 1980’s the bus depot had replaced the studio with a low-slung, 2 story facility. The water tower and the El, both long gone.
The image (above) from The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is of Wesley A. Williams, a Black mail carrier/driver from 1915. Wesley was photographed under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, a notoriously racist American President who re:segregated the Post Office (from Vox – https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2015/11/20/9766896/woodrow-wilson-racist):
Easily the worst part of Wilson’s record as president was his overseeing of the resegregation of multiple agencies of the federal government, which had been surprisingly integrated as a result of Reconstruction decades earlier. At an April 11, 1913, Cabinet meeting, Postmaster General Albert Burleson argued for segregating the Railway Mail Service. He took exception to the fact that workers shared glasses, towels, and washrooms. Wilson offered no objection to Burleson’s plan for segregation, saying that he “wished the matter adjusted in a way to make the least friction.”
Both Burleson and Treasury Secretary William McAdoo took Wilson’s comments as authorization to segregate. The Department of Treasury and Post Office Department both introduced screened-off workspaces, separate lunchrooms, and separate bathrooms. In a 1913 open letter to Wilson, W.E.B. DuBois — who had supported Wilson in the 1912 election before being disenchanted by his segregation policies — wrote of “one colored clerk who could not actually be segregated on account of the nature of his work [and who] consequently had a cage built around him to separate him from his white companions of many years.” That’s right: Black people who couldn’t, logistically, be segregated were put in literal cages.
I, of course, don’t know what Wesley’s take would be on our current president and his efforts to sabotage the US Postal Service in order to give him an electoral advantage, but I hope that in Wesley’s spirit (if you are going to vote by mail) that you vote as early as possible, and as carefully as possible, in order to insure that your vote counts in 2020.
This image is a part of Photoville – this year an outdoor exhibition of photography throughout the 5 boroughs. See: https://photoville.nyc/exhibitions/ for more information.
The photo of Welsey is featured in St. Nicholas Park.
Photoville’s exhibit on 145th Street at Bradhurst features a number of wonderful images of mid-century Black America. Billy Eckstine was ‘a neighbor’, living at the corner of 5th Avenue and 126th Street:
25th Precinct Officers and Community Council Clothing Giveaway
The Salvation Army wanted to let everyone know that it continues to offer its regular feeding program to anyone in need at their 125th Street location. Additionally, they reported to HNBA that their music school for children is running in a virtual format and currently have 35 children registered this semester.
Their East View residence has availability: https://www.eastviewnyc.com/ and their Social Service Office is open every Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Victorian men and women boarding a steamship in Westchester (this part of The Bronx – under the High Bridge – was not yet a part of The Bronx or New York City), to head south to Harlem at 120th Street:
The larger night view of the precarious wooden pier and the High Bridge water tower looming above, can be seen below in the Harpers Magazine’s illustration:
A great video with amazing production values and choreography is out from HarlemParade.org
Harlem Parade notes that:
The Harlem Parade initiative launched via HARLEMPARADE.ORG on September 17, 2020 with an innovative protest art video – Black Parade Harlem.
Led by Harlem native and principal dancer for Beyoncé, Dnay Baptiste, and Founder and Creative Directorthat produce unique content and event activations to celebrate Harlem’s rich arts community, amplifyHarlem’s Black-owned businesses, and promote civic engagement.
Driven by three pillars of purpose- culture, commerce and community, we are committed to preserving Harlem’s cultural legacy, protecting Harlem’s Black commerce, and empowering Harlem’s thriving community.
I love this distinctive font used on an 1887 church (now a private residence – the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinon bought it almost 10 years ago for 2.75 million – 2050 5th Avenue).
What I am less enthralled about is the fact that at the time of the sale, the deal makers touted that the church would be used for a community space:
According to the brokers who sold 2050 Fifth Avenue, Mr. Rondinone plans to transform the church into some sort of community cultural space. “It was a very busy listing, Louis probably showed it to 80 different groups,” Alan Miller of Eastern Consolidated told The Observer. Louis would be Louis Ricci, the Eastern director in charge of the deal. “When it finally sold,” Mr. Miller continued, “the neighbors were very happy to know it would be something for the community.” (Mr. Rondinone was traveling this afternoon and could not immediately be reached for comment.)https://observer.com/2011/11/heaven-yes-ugo-rondinone-buys-harlem-church/
Harlem has, since the Dutch settlement of Manhattan, been known by 3 names. Nieuwe Haarlem, Lancaster, and Harlem. The name Lancaster was imposed (unsuccessfully) by Richard Nicholls, the governor of New York, in 1666, during the brief period between May 1688 and April 1689, during which New York was part of the Dominion of New England, the territory was known in this period as the Province of New York.
His proclamation read:
That from and after the date of these Presents the said Town shall no longer be called New Harlem, but shall be known and called by the name of Lancaster; and in all deeds, bargains and sales, records or writings, shall be so deemed, observed and written.
A Tourist Guide’s Guide to 6 Must-See’s in Harlem
I confess I”m suspicious of any guide to our community that uses an image of Brooklyn in the chapter on Marcus Garvey Park, but nevertheless, this article did make me ask myself, ‘What are my top 6 Must-See’s in Harlem?’
From the very beginning of Harlem, beer was an essential drink among the European colonists. James Riker notes in “History of Harlem” that:
In 1667 beer was the common beverage in the Dutch Colony. “At vendues, or in making contracts or settlements, its presence was deemed indispensable to the proper transaction of the business. The magistrates when occupying the bench always had beer brought in, running up a score with the tapster at the public charge. Nor did the ordination of elders and deacons, or funeral solemnities, form an exception. At such times wine and other liquors, with pipes and tobacco, were also freely distributed. Families commonly laid in their beer by the quarter and half vat, or barrel. — Much of the beer consumed here (in New Harlem) was brewed by Johannes Vermilye, while the breweries of Daniel Verveelen, Isaac de Forest, and Jacob Kip, at New York, were also patronized.”
There were, however, also laws that attempted to restrict the sale of alcohol to the Lenape people in and around Harlem. This prohibition was signed by Nichols, the English ruler of New York, in 1664
A Warrant to the Magistrates of Harlem for the Prohibition of the sale of strong liquors to Indians. Whereas, I am informed of several abuses that are done and committed by the Indians, occasioned much through the liberty some persons take of selling Strong Liquors unto them; These are to require you that you take special care that none of your Town presume to sell any sort of Strong Liquors or Strong Beer unto any Indian, and if you shall find any person offending therein, that you seize upon such Liquor and bring such person before me, to make answers for the offense. Given under my hand, at Fort James, in New York, this 18th of March, 1664 [1665 N. S.]. RICHARD NICOLLS.
The presence, of course, of this “Prohibition” indicates that “the sale” was in fact, a common practice – common enough to warrant special mention.
Beer was not only regulated, but was also taxed – not only in terms of volume but also in terms of quality. This accusation (against Johannes Verveelen) was for his failure to pay tax on beer:
Most Honorable Heeren, Overseers of this Town: Whereas Johannes Verveelen, ordinary-keeper in this town, did on the 6th February wickedly smuggle one-half vat of good beer; on the i8th April, one vat of good beer and one anker of rum; on the 27th of April, one-half vat of good beer; on the 8th May, one-half vat of good beer; on the 27th May, one-half vat of good beer and one anker of rum; all which is contrary to the existing placards on the subject of smuggling, and by the high magistracy approved. Therefore the plaintiff, ex-officio the preserver of the peace, demands that the defendant be condemned in the penalty of twenty-one hundred guilders, according to the placards, together with the costs of prosecution. The I4th June, 1667, in N. Harlem. Yours, Honorable Heeren, DANIEL, TOURNEUR, Deputy Sheriff.
The tavern of the day was Verveelen’s:
At the comer of the lower street and third crossway, Verveelen’s tavern hung out its sign-board, its site now on the north line of 123d street, 300 feet west of 1st avenue. Well patronized, too, by the lovers of good-cheer and goed bier, this is shown by the frequency with which he supplied his vault with goed bier and klegn bier, Spanish wine and rum
The tavern’s site is where (today) the Wagner Projects are located:
And, I can’t end a piece on beer without mentioning Harlem Hops, Harlem’s amazing 21st century pub at 2268 ADAM CLAYTON POWELL JUNIOR BOULEVARD.
Harlem Hops notes that takeout is now available. They write:
Please check out our menu below and call us at 646-998-3444 We are delivering within a 20 block radius of the bar.
If you’re not in the NYC area but would still like to support us, click on the link to our Swag shop where you will fine some cool Harlem Hops Merchandise and Merchandise Gift cards for purchase. If you want to purchase an in-store gift cards, please click on the In-Store Gift Card link. You can also support by donating to our non-profit organization Harlem Hopes.
Thank you for your time and consideration, and your continued patronage