Sarah and Angelina Grimke are revered figures in American history, famous for rejecting their privileged lives on a plantation in South Carolina to become firebrand activists in the North. Yet retellings of their epic story have long obscured their Black relatives. [Read more…] about The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family
Between 1915 and 1970, in the wake of racial terror during the post-Reconstruction period, millions of Black Americans fled from their homes to other areas within the South and to other parts of the country. This movement of people caused a radical shift in the demographic, economic, and sociopolitical makeup of the United States.
For instance, New York City — and particularly Manhattan — became home to hundreds of thousands of Black Americans during this time, catalyzing the start of the artistic and cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. [Read more…] about Artists Reflect On the Impact of Great Migration in New Exhibit
Before the arrival of European settlers, the flatland area that would become Harlem (originally: Nieuw Haarlem after the Dutch city of that name) was inhabited by the indigenous Munsee speakers, the Lenape. The first settlers from the Low Countries arrived in the late 1630s.
Harlem was an agricultural center under British rule (attempts to change the name of the community to “Lancaster” failed and the authorities reluctantly adopted the Anglicised name of Harlem). During the American Revolutionary War in September 1776 it was the site of the Battle of Harlem Heights. Later, rich elites built country houses there in order to escape from the city’s dirt and epidemics (Alexander Hamilton built his Harlem estate in 1802). [Read more…] about Harlem on Fire: Langston Hughes & Wallace Henry Thurman
Over the past two decades there has been an upsurge of interest in the life and work of Hubert H. Harrison. As a leading socialist and subsequent proponent of what he termed the mass-based “Race First” approach to organizing, Harrison exercised a direct, seminal influence on his contemporaries including A. Philip Randolph, W. A. Domingo, Marcus Garvey, Richard B Moore, Chandler Owen, Arturo Schomburg, Cyril Briggs, Claude McKay, James Weldon Johnson, Hodge Kirnon, J. A. Rogers and William Monroe Trotter.
As W. A. Domingo, childhood friend of Garvey and first editor of the Negro World would later explain, “Garvey like the rest of us followed Hubert Harrison.” [Read more…] about Hubert Harrison: Tribune of the People
Baker had started her career as a young dancer in Vaudeville shows where her exuberant talent was quickly spotted. When she moved to New York City she joined in the festival of black life and art now known as the Harlem Renaissance, but segregation and racism drove her away from home. [Read more…] about The Cabaret Trail: 1920s Urban Nightlife in New York, Paris & London
One of the effects of colonial expansion in the nineteenth century was that museums stopped being exclusively Euro-centered. The mapping of the annexed world was a responsibility of colonial governments which employed scholars to carry out the tasks of collecting and recording. Curators changed their collecting focus.
Works of art from Africa and Pacific Oceania that were looted, stolen or cheaply acquired without concern about provenance, found their way from British, French, Dutch, and Belgian colonial territories to the museums and curiosity shops of Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Brussels. [Read more…] about The Cake Walk, Prohibition & John Philip Sousa: Ragtime Wild Paris
Born in 1799, Clemente Bassano (the family name originates from the Veneto region of Italy) settled in London and started his career as a fishmonger in Soho. By 1825 he ran a warehouse from Jermyn Street, St James’s, importing almonds, oil, capers, and macaroni.
His daughter Louise was an opera singer who toured with Franz Liszt on his London visit in 1840/1. Her brother Alessandro became a high society photographer with a studio in Regent Street. His portrait of Horatio Kitchener was used during the First World War for an iconic recruitment poster. [Read more…] about Harlem’s “Black Beauty” Mills; London’s Josephine Baker
The Underground Railroad Coalition recently announced a major effort to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the New York State constitutional provision that ended slavery in the State on July 4, 1827.
The emancipation provision in the New York State Constitution of 1799 provided for the gradual elimination of slavery in New York, but it did not end the widespread legal race discrimination in the state. The most glaring example of this was the New York State Constitution of 1821, which eliminated property qualifications to vote for white men, but denied black men owning less than $250 worth of property the right to vote. [Read more…] about Real Estate, Philip Payton And The Rise of Black Harlem
Over the course of the twentieth century, education was a key site for envisioning opportunities for African Americans, but the very schools they attended sometimes acted as obstacles.
The new book Educating Harlem: A Century of Schooling and Resistance in a Black Community (Columbia University Press, 2019), edited by Ansley T. Erickson and Ernest Morrell, brings together a multidisciplinary group of scholars to provide a broad consideration of the history of schooling in one of the nation’s most iconic black communities. [Read more…] about Educating Harlem: A Century of Schooling and Resistance
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has recently designated the Central Harlem – West 130-132nd Streets a Historic District. This mid-block historic district represents Central Harlem’s residential architecture, and the social, cultural, and political life of its African American population in the 20th century.
To illustrate the significance of this diverse historic district, LPC launched an interactive story map called Explore the Central Harlem – West 130th-132nd Streets Historic District. [Read more…] about Historic District Designated in Central Harlem