10 Days in Harlem

It is wild to think that before Fidel Castro sided with the Soviet Union, when he was still formulating his relationship with the United States, he would spend 10 fateful days in Harlem at the Theresa Hotel in 1960.

During this time, Fidel met with a number of world and local leaders. Malcolm X and Fidel had a conversation in Fidel’s hotel room:

To see a (poor quality) Cuban news report on the meeting entitled: “Histórico encuentro entre Fidel y Malcolm X”, see:

And Fidel also met with the leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev.

This meeting, coupled with the cold shoulder, and insulting behavior of the Americans, tipped Fidel (and thus, revolutionary Cuba) towards the Soviet Union.

While we now view the early 60’s, Cuba, The Soviet Union, and The United States through the lens of the Cuban Missile Crisis – https://www.cfr.org/blog/twe-remembers-learning-more-about-cuban-missile-crisis – it’s important to note that during Fidel’s time in Harlem (his 10 days were a chance to introduce himself to other world leaders and to deliver what turned out to be the longest speech at the United Nations in its history), the US was engaged in the 1960 elections. This election battle was between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon and the election whose televised debate set the stage for all election debates since.

John F. Kennedy, on the campaign trail, came to Harlem, and the Hotel Theresa, less than 2 weeks after Castro. Harlem, therefore, within 2 weeks, had the 3 main characters – Kennedy, Castro, and Krushchev – of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a crisis that in retrospect was the closest the world has come to an intercontinental nuclear war, at Adam Clayton Powell Blvd and 125th Street, all seeking attention and support.

Here is a short, one minute video of Kennedy in Harlem:

The 12

Patch has an article on the 12 declared contenders for Bill Perkins’ seat in the City Council’s 9th District. Nick Garber’s article includes a list of the candidates and some info about their fundraising background, and platforms:

William Allen

  • Money raised: $13,213
  • A former journalist, Allen has also worked as the National Crisis and Service Director at the National Action Network. He has served as a Democratic district leader in Harlem and worked for the city Board of Elections.

Cordell Cleare

  • Money raised: $31,699
  • Cleare formerly served as Perkins’s chief of staff in the State Senate and founded the Michelle Obama Community Democratic Club. She ran for City Council in the 2017 special election, coming in third place.

Joshua Clennon

  • Money raised: $14,308
  • Clennon is a manager for the property management firm UMDI, is treasurer of Community Board 10, and served as executive director of the Uptown Democratic Club.

William Council

  • Money raised: $17,170
  • Council has worked as an administrator at the nonoprofit rehabilitation center Phoenix House, has worked as a youth basketball coach and co-founded the A.A.U basketball program The Rens and the nonprofit CouncilHim.

Pierre Gooding

  • Money raised: $7,245
  • An attorney, Gooding also identifies as a libertarian. He works as general counsel at the Scholar Athlete Fund and formerly worked for Success Academy Charter Schools.

Kristin Richardson Jordan

  • Money raised: $55,690 (plus $160,444 in public matching funds)
  • Jordan is an author, poet, teaching after and activist in Harlem. She founded the independent publishing house Pens Up Press, runs the Uproar Poetry Group and has held poetry workshops at a Harlem school and senior center.

Alpheaus Marcus

  • Money raised: none
  • Marcus ran for State Assembly in the Bronx in 2018, as a Republican. He founded the Urban Nonprartisan Club and is CEO of AMX Consultants, a political firm.

Ruth McDaniels

  • Money raised: $11,776
  • Before her retirement, McDaniels worked as a peace officer at city schools, a supervisor at the NYPD’s school safety division and a police sergeant for the city’s human resources administration. She is now a tenant association president and is vice president for an NYPD community council.

Bernadette McNear

  • Money raised: none
  • McNear has been a tenant leader at NYCHA’s Rangel Houses and is currently employed as a Program Director of an afterschool program for kids in grades k-5th located in Harlem. Current Employer: Catholic Charities Community Services Alianza/Rangel

Mario Rosser

  • Money raised: $47,963
  • Rosser is a partnership manager at LinkedIn, and formerly co-chaired the New York Young Leadership Board.

Sheba Simpson

  • Money raised: $9,859
  • A special education teacher, Simpson also founded the Central Harlem Merchant Coalition to Save Small Businesses.

Keith Taylor

  • Money raised: $20,377
  • A longtime member of Community Board 10, Taylor is an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He worked for decades in the NYPD and served as an assistant commissioner for the Department of Corrections.

Murder, Density, and Cars

Here are a 3 maps I’ve come across recently.

The NYPD maps, of course, murder and other crimes committed throughout the 5 boroughs. As you can see, the data below shows a non-random distribution of murders committed in NYC:

This data (the latest available) is a year’s worth, from Oct. 2019 – Oct. 2020.

Below is a map of NYC’s population density. I found it interesting that Washington Heights and Inwood have higher densities than much of Harlem:

I also was intrigued to see how car crashes mapped onto our city:

Lastly, below is the (above) map of murders, but zoomed into our community:

The full map for you to explore is here: https://maps.nyc.gov/crime/. You can sort by different types of crime, and different ranges of time.

Micro-Grant Option

A new micro grant option came across our desk and I wanted to share: https://yasminhurston.com/butterfly-urban-grants

The grant might be just what you’ve been looking for. Small, flexible, and focused on urban America.

Calabar Imports

Over on Frederick Douglass Blvd at West 134th Street, Calabar Imports has a great selection of local and imported handicrafts. The imported work is almost exclusively from the African continent, and the stateside artists and artisans are either diasporic Africans or Black Americans.

This gallery/store is well worth checking out. We bought some small batch preserves (unable to resist the idea of smokey peach jam).

NYS Tourism

So many Harlem businesses have been devastated by the virtual end of tourism over the last year. The restaurants, stores, cultural sites, lodging, and more, all have been hit so hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the incompetence and indifference of the Trump administration.

I was pleased, however, to see that the latest from I Love New York – the state tourism board – that Harlem (as represented by the Apollo) was featured on the first page. Let’s all hope that 2021 will see a return of the tourism industry and to brighter futures for our local businesses and their employees.

The Biden Presidency!

4 very, very long years.

The nightmare of the Trump presidency has finally ended.

There is, as everyone knows, a huge amount of work still to be done to heal the scars of the hate that Trump fomented and unleashed. Still, today, we can look past the 4 years of lies, unchecked greed, and the betrayal of America’s promise and rule of law.

Let’s all pledge to work towards a more perfect union together – as citizens and as neighbors.

Uptown Grand Central and Positive Workforce


A great article about the amazing cleaning going on at Park/Lex and 125th Street.

Bodega Cat

Sometimes, there is nothing more to say, other than this is my bodega’s cat wanting some attention.

Racial Healing Hub

Join the Harlem Wellness Center today by either dropping by the NW corner of Marcus Garvey Park for a drop-in, socially distanced interactive labyrinth walk sometime between 10am-4pm or virtually gathering on Instagram Live at either 11 am or 3:30-pm for a virtual labyrinth walk.   

Click here for complete info along with a link to the lead up to the labyrinth installation:

Harlem Wellness Center: #HWC4racialhealing Hub 

Harlem Wellness Center joins individuals and organizations across the country in amplifying values for social justice, equal rights and healing the racial divide on Tuesday, January 19, 2020, the 5th Annual National Day of Racial Healing. Harlem Wellness Center will kick off its #HWC4racialhealing hub series on the day between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day and the 2020 Presidential Inauguration. Against the backdrop of a global pandemic and a massive movement to address systemic racism, we remember Dr Martin Luther King Jr‘s dream and honor it with action. The Racial Healing Hub centers and promotes principles of truth, reconciliation and transformation through art, reflection, facilitated conversations, mindfulness practices, and ceremony. It cultivates a space for community members to hear and see each other by inviting self expression, understanding and sincere human connection.


Every so often it’s important to go back and reread something of James Baldwin in order to see just how far we’ve come, but, more importantly, how far we haven’t come as a nation and as a city.

In 1965, James Baldwin debated W.F. Buckley at Cambridge University in what became an immediate classic and a touchstone moment in the (intellectual) history of the civil rights movement. Baldwin notes in this debate that:

If you walk out of Harlem, ride out of Harlem, downtown, the world agrees what you see is much bigger, cleaner, whiter, richer, safer than where you are. They collect the garbage. People obviously can pay their life insurance. Their children look happy, safe.

And while the garbage may be collected in our community in 2021, Baldwin’s old neighborhood hosts not one, but two DSNY depots, and the income and wealth gap among Americans has never been more acute.

For the full debate, see:

2nd Avenue Subway, Still Coming…

The governor has said that:

“We will further extend the Second Avenue Subway from 96th Street to 125th Street,” Cuomo said Thursday during his State of the State address. “That will open up the East Side all the way up to Harlem for new, exciting possibilities.”

Note, however, it’s unclear where the money is coming from, and what the new (post-pandemic) timeline is.

Nick Garber at Patch.com has more: https://patch.com/new-york/harlem/2nd-avenue-subways-east-harlem-extension-move-forward-cuomo

Dorrance Brooks

Private First Class Dorrance Brooks – World War I Hero & Beloved Son of Harlem

As president of the Dorrance Brooks Square Property Owners and Residents Association, I am proud to announce that our application submitted in December 2019 to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has been calendared for consideration by LPC on February 1st, 2021. Private First Class Dorrance Brooks (d. 1918), was an African American soldier who died in France shortly before the end of World War I. A native of Harlem and the son of a Civil War veteran, Brooks was a Private First Class in the 15th Infantry/369th Infantry Regiment. 

In World War I, African-American soldiers served in segregated regiments and were not eligible for aid from the Army Nurse Corps or the American Red Cross. In spite of these discouragements, Brooks distinguished himself as a faithful and patriotic soldier. Brooks was praised for his “signal bravery” in leading the remnants of his company after his superior officers were killed.

Dorrance Brooks Square was dedicated on June 14, 1925 and was the first park in New York City to be named after an African-American. If approved by the NYC LPC, this will be the first historic district in New York City to be named after an African-American.

Dr. Keith Taylor

President, DBPORA 


3rd Avenue Bridge

A charming stereoview showing the 3rd Avenue Bridge is for sale on eBay for $10: https://www.ebay.com/itm/154176687581?ul_noapp=true

Notice the clock-tower in the back-right, indicating that we are looking from Harlem, north, towards the bronx. The woman’s outfit, the horse wagon and the Belgian block paving all add to the charm.

Join Your Community Board

2021 Community Board application is now “live”

ON Apply now to join your Community Board, the most grassroots form of local government. The Boards are pivotal in shaping their communities and work to enhance and preserve the character of the city’s many unique neighborhoods. Applications close Monday, 2/1/2021. Click here to download a PDF to study the questions and prepare your answers before applying online (the online application does not allow “sessions”– you must complete the application all … Read more