When Paris first heard American jazz, it is – from our perspective – impossible to make sense of the cultural thunderbolt that must have hit audiences. This music was so wholly different to European ears that it was either scornfully rejected or eagerly accepted. [Read more…] about Harlem & The Hellfighter Band That Set France Jazz Mad
The modern banjo derives from mid-1600 instruments that had been used in the Caribbean by enslaved people taken from West Africa. The original version was made from a hollowed-out (hard-skinned) gourd and a varying number of horsehair strings. [Read more…] about Banjo Pickers and Harlem-On-The-Seine
From Ethel Waters and Althea Gibson to Marcus Garvey and Langston Hughes, Harlem’s extraordinary historic legacy was vital to the intellectual, cultural and political advancements of African Americans and the United States.
Now, with funding from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, While We Are Still Here is planning to install twenty-five historic markers around the Harlem community, beginning in the summer of 2021, to celebrate historic places. [Read more…] about Historic Signs Will Celebrate Harlem History
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
He later moved to London where he met several Black Nationalists seeking to end white European colonialism in Africa.
At a library in London he read Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery in which Washington, the founder of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, urged that African-Americans pull themselves up and establish black institutions, over seeking equal rights through integration. [Read more…] about Marcus Garvey In Harlem: Roots of African Independence
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
A new full-color digital graphic novel by the Association of the United States Army Book Program, Medal of Honor: Henry Johnson, recognizes the remarkable acts of Henry Johnson of Albany during the First World War.
Her hair was flaming red and so were her freckles. Born Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith on August 14, 1894 in Alderson, West Virginia, she was the youngest of four children.
“I am hundred percent American Negro with a trigger Irish temper” – as she summarized her genealogy. The “Queen Victoria” in her birth name is both puzzling and amusing, but whatever the explanation she lived her life as a royal – Queen of Montmartre. [Read more…] about Ada ‘Bricktop’ Smith: Queen of Montmarte
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 NYS Writers Institute is set to welcome filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola for the Albany premiere of a restored and re-edited The Cotton Club, and a conversation with Writers Institute founder William Kennedy, who co-wrote the film’s original screenplay.
The film is set around Cotton Club, a popular New York City nightclub in the 1920s and 1930s, when it was located on 142nd Street and Lenox Avenue. Coppola’s restored and re-edited film adds 30 minutes of footage not in the original release, including several high-energy musical and dance numbers, and an expansion of the black characters’ stories and performances. Coppola spent half a million dollars of his own money re-editing it.