Summer of Soul Redux?

Summer Of Soul (… Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), the Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson-directed film that won the Oscar and the Grammy for documenting 1969’s now-famed Harlem Cultural Festival, has inspired a reboot of the landmark music event.

Ambassador Digital Magazine editor-in-chief Musa Jackson, who attended the 1969 event and appeared in Summer of Soul, said Tuesday that he, BNP Advisory Group strategist Nikoa Evans and event producer and Captivate Marketing Group president Yvonne McNair are teaming to launch the Harlem Festival of Culture in the summer of 2023.

The multi-day outdoor concert event will be a reimagining of the 1969 fest and take place in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, where the original took place when it was known as Mount Morris Park. Official dates have not yet been announced.

“The original event was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that I will never forget,” Jackson told Billboard. “With this initiative, we want to create something that evokes that same sense of pride in our community that I felt on that special day in 1969. We want to authentically encapsulate the full scope: the energy, the music, the culture. We want people to understand that this festival is being built by the people who are from, live and work in this community.”

Photography at the Schomburg

Make sure to check out Been/Seen – an exhibit of historical and contemporary photography at the Schomburg Library Gallery – on display now.

This exhibit juxtaposes classic images in the Schomburg’s collection with new work.

Compost Project Launch

May 14th at 3:00 PM

Abyssinian Tot Lot at 130 West 139th Street

MMPCIA Meeting on Tuesday

Join MMPCIA on Tuesday at 6:00 PM

Here’s the link:

Roy DeCarava

Born in Harlem in 1919, Roy DeCarava spent over six decades creating a rich body of work exploring the world around him – the everyday life of his beloved community in New York as well as the famous (and infamous) jazz musicians of the day.

DeCarava took pains to place Black lives in the forefront of his images. Synthesizing the immediacy and opportunism of documentary and street photography, his black-and-white silver gelatin photographs contributed profoundly to transforming the 20th century’s photographic canon.

new exhibition at David Zwirner’s London gallery brings together a number of lesser known, selected works by the acclaimed photographer.

Shop Harlem Made

Upper Manhattan Asian American Alliance’s Lunar New Year Celebration

his Saturday at 2pm, Harlem is hosting its own Lunar New Year-themed block party! It will be one of a kind, featuring Harlem’s own connection to the Asian culture!  A group of Harlem-based Asian seniors will perform their dance routine for us! Bring your children to come to learn about Asian culture and pick up some food and gifts. Oh and we will be giving out COVID test kits and masks. First come first served!!

Where: Saturday, 12thFeb 2022 at 2pm

When: 120th Street between Mount Morris Park and Lenox Avenue

What: We will put up some decorations and play music. Notably, a group of Harlem-based Chinese seniors will give a dance performance! We will also distribute some gifts to the attendees.
Please also help spread the word! Below are social media posts and attached is the event poster:

James Van Der Zee

The Studio Museum in Harlem holds a 50,000 item plus archive of negatives and prints of James Van Der Zee

Having held the archive for decades, the Studio Museum will now partner with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to manage the prints and negatives by the Van Der Zee, as well as his ephemera and photo equipment.

In a statement, the artist’s widow Donna Van Der Zee said, “That The Met’s acquisition will allow the public to witness, learn from, and be moved by the beauty and diversity captured in Van’s photographs gives me tremendous joy. The collection has found an ideal permanent home.”

Thelma Golden, the Studio Museum’s director, praised the partnership as a vital attempt to bring the archive “under one roof, where the technical challenges of conservation and digitization will be expertly managed, and our ongoing work in advancing knowledge of Van Der Zee will be supported and amplified by a great partner.”

James Van Der Zee, who died in 1983, created what are now considered some of the most important documents of Harlem during the first half of the 20th century. But his work was not known widely until 1969, when the Met mounted “Harlem on My Mind,” an exhibition about the New York neighborhood that faced controversy because it was organized by a white man, largely without community involvement, and because it featured no paintings or sculptures by artists living there.

Not everything about the Van Der Zee archive has proven so easy, however. In 1981, Van Der Zee himself sued the Studio Museum, claiming that he was never totally compensated when the institution agreed to become the custodian of his archive in 1976. In 1984, the suit was settled, with Van Der Zee’s estate regaining half the 50,000-work collection signed over to the Studio Museum.

Seen on West 127th Street

A hopeful message for 2022.

Drinking Soda

How Calculated: 

Estimated number of adults who, on average reported having consumed one or more sugary drinks per day, divided by all adults in the area; expressed as a percent. Sugary drinks include soda, sweetened iced tea, sports drinks, fruit punch, and other fruit flavored drinks. (One drink equals 12 ounces). Diet soda, sugar free drinks, 100% juice, and seltzer are not included.

Source: New York City Community Health Survey (CHS)

Photoville in East Harlem

Head to the East Harlem waterfront (the Esplanade) between 100-102nd Streets to see a free Photoville exhibit of photography:

Enter on 96th, 103rd, or 111th Streets.

Free Bike Helmets

Free bike helmets for you or your kids! Saturday at 54th and 11th Ave. 11:30-2:30.

Speaking of Cycling…

The Daily News reports:

Manhattan Democratic chair Keith Wright doored cyclist in Harlem, fled scene: ‘It’s his fault for running into my door’

Prosecutors in Manhattan have charged the borough’s top Democrat with dooring a cyclist in Harlem and fleeing the scene, according to court papers.

Keith Wright, the current leader of the New York County Democrats, opened the door to his BMW around 9:15 p.m. Aug. 26 while parked on Fifth Ave. and E. 138th St., hitting an oncoming cyclist, according to the criminal complaint.

After the cyclist fell from his bike and lay injured in the street, Wright sped off without leaving his name, number, or insurance policy — or offering to bring the victim to the hospital, prosecutors said at Wright’s Friday arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court.

When authorities tracked down Wright almost two weeks later, the former Harlem state assemblyman fessed up and agreed to surrender.

“I was about to open my car door while he was riding an electric bike. It is his fault for running into my door,” Wright told NYPD Det. Lamount Deaderick, according to the complaint.

“I told him to go to the hospital. I did not exchange my information with him. I asked for his information but he did not give it to me.”

At the arraignment, Wright pleaded not guilty to two counts of leaving the scene and was released by a judge. He’s due back in court Oct. 10.

It’s illegal in New York to open a car door into the path of another road user, and “dooring” has claimed a number of New Yorkers’ lives in recent years.

In January 2019, Brooklyn bagel deliveryman Hugo Alexander Sinto Garcia died on his way to work riding along Third Ave. in Sunset Park when a cabbie opened his car door, sending Sinto flying out onto the road and into the path of another vehicle.

And in April 2018, Juan Pacheco, 57, was pedaling down LaSalle St. near Broadway in west Harlem when the driver of a Nissan Quest threw open his door, fatally throwing the father of three from his bike onto the road.

East Harlem Photojournalist

One of our neighbors, Timothy Fadek, is an amazing photo journalist who has travelled the world, documenting people, the environment, and the political stories that are shaping the 21st century.

Timothy’s work on the COVID-19 Pandemic is an amazing reminder of how dire things were during those early days:

To see this entire series, and more of his work:

As Seen Near Marcus Garvey Park

In The Heights Tonight!

Come join us for some summer fun!  East River Plaza and ImageNation Outdoors Movie Festival are joining forces again this year for Movie Nights at ERP.  Our first movie is “In the Heights”

Admission is free!  However, seating is limited so an RSVP is required.  Please go to  East River Plaza Movie Night to register. 

Please share with your families, friends, and neighbors.  Looking forward to seeing you!

Asthma Prevalence – Adults

How Calculated: Estimated number of adults aged 18 years and older who reported medically diagnosed asthma with symptoms in the last 12 months, divided by all adults and adjusted for age; expressed as percent.

Source: New York City Community Health Survey (CHS)

Asthma Prevalence – Children ever diagnosed with asthma (ages 0-13 years)

How Calculated: 

Estimated number of children ages 0-13 years who were ever diagnosed with asthma, divided by all children of the same ages, expressed as a percent. 

Source: NYC KIDS Survey

En Foco: Deep Roots

En Foco has a wonderful exhibition of a powerful collection of work from Harlem artists. The exhibit runs until August 19th:

Deep Roots, curated by Lisa Dubois, featuring photographers Samantha Box, Burroughs Lamar, Carmen Lizardo, Richard Louissaint, and Joana Toro, includes visual narratives that poignantly connect the artists with their beloved heritage, past and present. The photo essays explore themes of history, survival, and tradition; depicting the various ways each photographer has retained the customs and culture of their birthplace in their adopted land.


Dawoud Bey at The Whitney Museum

Dawoud Bey is one of the most innovative and influential photographers of his generation. He has spent more than four decades photographing underrepresented subjects and fostering a dialogue that addresses African American history and contemporary society and politics. 

Dawoud Bey: An American Project is at the Whitney Museum of American Art until 3 October and features a number of Harlem images from the mid 70’s and beyond.

Bey’s work in the tradition of the American portrait and street photography references and builds upon the work of other Black photographic pioneers of the 20th century including James Van Der Zee and Roy DeCarava

Bey began photographing in Harlem in 1975, at the age of 22. Although he was raised in Queens, he was intimately connected to the neighborhood – his parents had met there and members of his extended family still made it their home

Bey’s work portrays Harlem and its residents as complex individuals in images free of stereotype

New Juice Bar

A new juice bar is coming to Madison Avenue, just north of 125th Street at the old location where Jahlookova used to be.

Roy DeCarava – Photographer

Roy DeCarava was an African American artist who received early critical acclaim for his black and white photography.

Initially engaging and imaging the lives of African Americans and jazz musicians in the communities where he lived and worked, DeCarava was a regular presence in Harlem and documented a number of local scenes and people.

This image of a sidewalk, a boy, a car, and a stoop, stands out because the building it is centered on, still exists.

2083 5th Avenue, today, has the same recognizable building/stoop design, and is located almost directly across from the home where the Collyer brothers once lived in their hoarding squalor.

I love that in the DeCarava image you can zoom in to the polished hubcap of the car, and actually see the streetscape on the west side of 5th Avenue between 128th and 129th Streets:

In reverse, of course (note that the rooftop extension on the white building is ‘new’, as is the gap between the white building and the larger apartment building to the north):

And while hidden by the trees in the left of the photo (above), the Collyer’s brownstone is clearly absent in the hubcap reflection. Torn down and made into a Harlem park.

Build the Bench: Why Black Representation Matters

Join Build the Bench on Thursday for a celebration of their first anniversary and to tune into a conversation about increasing Black voices in the halls of power.

To register:

1 Hour Photo

Anyone who smiles at this recently exposed sign on 3rd, knows how exciting 1 hour photos were in the 80s and 90s.

On of our neighbors noted that this sign is a left-over film shoot prop, and not an authentic and revealed sign:

Which has been removed.

And, Further Uptown at 127th and 3rd Avenue

Part of his evidence of this was a second store sign that he also photographed at the time when he first noticed the film processing yellow/red sign:

This bas relief by the entry to The Beatrice Lewis Senior Center caught my eye the other day:

It is certainly of it’s time.

COVID-19 Then and Now

As we all know, New York was hit hard by COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic as this visualization shows:

However, the situation now, is incredibly different:

To see the animated version and get sucked into the mesmerizing aspect of this horrific crisis:

Housing Justice

New York’s Housing Crisis is More Dire Than Ever: 

  • Evictions are happening across New York state as COVID-19 cases rise. 
  • 1.4 million New Yorkers are unsure if they can pay next month’s rent. 
  • 92,000 New Yorkers are homeless in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
  • Evictions and homelessness lead to a higher rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

Who are we writing to and why?

  • Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Senate Majority Leader and Carl Heastie, Speaker of the State Assembly
  • The Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker have the power to call the legislature back into session RIGHT NOW. 
  • The New York State legislature has the power to STOP evictions, house the homeless, and clear back rent. They are choosing inaction because they are unwilling to tax the ultra wealthy. 

How to do it: 

Option 1: Make your own card and mail it to us! 

Step 1: Grab a piece of paper and fold it in half 

Step 2: Write your housing justice message inside! 

Step 3: Decorate it however you like! 

Step 4: Mail it to:
Joseph Loonam

470 Vanderbilt Avenue,
Brooklyn NY, 11238

Option 2: Make a card online, we’ll print it and deliver it for you! 

What to Write (Personalize it!) 

Dear Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Carl Heastie, 

A housing crisis is exploding in our state. There are 92,000 homeless New Yorkers and people across the state are getting evicted due to the pandemic. 

All I want for the holidays is for everyone to be safe in their own homes. You have the power to make that happen. 

Don’t let New Yorkers spend the holidays in a shelter or on the streets 

We need you to house the homeless, stop evictions, and cancel rent for all New Yorkers. 

Our state cannot survive the pandemic any other way. 


Mail In Your Vote and Honor Wesley A. Williams

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 –

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: for more information.

The photo of Welsey is featured in St. Nicholas Park.

Billy Eckstine

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