My name is Rikki Ziegelman and I am the Media Manager for an education-based arts-initiative non-profit organization called BALLROOM BASIX. Our organization provides school children physical, social, emotional and cultural engagement through the etiquette and education of non-competitive Ballroom, Latin & Line dancing. Our headquarters are also, conveniently, in East Harlem!
Next Monday (August 2nd), we are beginning our “Sizzling Summer Salsa & Swing Series” which is happening in 3 different East Harlem Parks: Jackie Robinson Park, Harlem Art Park, and Thomas Jefferson Park. This free series is open to all ages and is completely FREE! Please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or (917)-831-7521 for more information.
I Am Not Your Negro in The Harlem Rose Garden
In celebration the birthtday of the literary icon and national/neighborhood treasure, James Baldwin, we will be screening “I Am Not Your Negro” on this Monday, August 2nd in the Harlem Rose Garden. About Raoul Peck’s documentary: In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, “Remember This House.” The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of this manuscript. Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. We will open the gates at 8PM with readings of favorite excerpts of his work (if you wish to read something brief, please reach out and we will save a slot for you) we will screen the film at 8:30PM.
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:
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:
Note, however, it’s unclear where the money is coming from, and what the new (post-pandemic) timeline is.
On Tuesday at 7pm we’ll meet on Zoom to learn more about strategies for buying a home, refinancing, and more ways to build generational wealth in these complex times. We will also have a candidate for Manhattan DA – Tali Farhadian Weinstein – join us to talk about how she wants to reform the DA’s office.
Lastly, we’ll have the new Parks Department administrator for Marcus Garvey Park stop by to introduce herself and her plans for MGP.
Cotton Comes to Harlem
Some of the joy found in the classic Cotton Comes to Harlem is seeing how many of the scenes were shot in our community. From the Rolls Royce driving west on East 115th Street:
To the protest that moves up Madison Avenue to East 129, and turns towards Park Avenue. This scene shows the (now silent) funeral parlor that is still located on Madison/E. 129 as a Madison Avenue, white facade, brownstone in the top right of the photo below.
Here is the same building with the white facade, today:
The protest concludes in front of the police station that the police officers Coffin and Gravedigger are stationed in – a building which has never been anything other than a residential apartment building.
When shots from the precinct or of the riots are shown, the distinctive porches of buildings on the north side of East 129th Street, across from the BP station, are visible (here, behind the heads of the actors):
These location shots were close to home – very near the movie studio on 2nd Avenue at East 127th where Cotton Comes to Harlem was filmed.
Below is the film’s ‘precinct’ as it appears on East 129th Street, today:
To buy some Cotton Comes to Harlem memorabilia from the 1970’s see:
Two Central Harlem Parks Named After East Harlem Writers
The Parks Department has renamed two parks on St. Nicholas after Langston Hughes and James Baldwin:
The lawn at St. Nicholas Park is now James Baldwin Lawn. The entrance to the park located at 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue has been named James Baldwin Lawn. Baldwin who was born in New York City was a world-renowned author, essayist, playwright, scholar, activist, and speaker with childhood associations with Harlem and DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. Baldwin later resided in Greenwich Village.
St. Nicholas Playground North is now Langston Hughes Playground. Background: Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. Though not born in NYC, he is most closely associated as a leader in the Harlem Renaissance, and lived in a now landmarked Harlem townhouse for more than two decades.
In honor of the 51st anniversary of Black Solidarity Day, NYC Parks proudly announces it has named 10 park spaces in honor of the Black experience in New York City, memorializing that which is locally, nationally, and historically relevant. In June, the agency pledged to continue to demonstrate how it stands in solidarity with the Black Community in its fight to combat systemic racism. The naming of these park spaces is among the many ways NYC Parks is acknowledging the legacies of these Black Americans, encouraging discourse about their contributions, and working to make the park system more diverse and reflective of the people it serves. The spaces named now represent five Black Women, four Black Men and one Black settlement group; and represent arts, culture, education, sports and more.