A place that means a lot to me:
The two places that mean the most to me in my neighborhood are first my building which is an HDFC cooperative and has allowed working class people to own their own apartments and run the building themselves, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
There are other wonderful cultural pieces in Harlem, the Studio Museum etc. Sadly, some others have disappeared like the Lenox Lounge, but as a scholar the Schomburg is a wonderful place for me to work in quiet, to see a small and unusual exhibition, get books delivered from the NYPL and to have peace.
What concerns me:
I know that there is value to having stores like Whole Foods or even Victoria’s Secret and other chain stores, because they do bring jobs and keep the area busier and safer, but these huge corporations don’t necessarily put money back in, so I want to see more support for small business that is more deeply rooted in Harlem, which is a place that people live for generations – it’s not so transitional. Covid has been really hard on people here but they are really as resilient as Americans come.
What I would like to see five years from now
I would like to see more affordable housing, more investment in cultural centers, more places for youth to do sports and develop other skills for free. I also am sad about the schools – the Rice school was taken over by a charter. I don’t favor charters since they are not consistent. We need to invest and improve all our city schools. I’d like to see more magnet schools for music and the arts in Harlem. There is a lot of talent here.
An obituary in Amsterdam News of Al Howard, owner of Harlem jazz club Showman’s Cafe. He died at 93 having contracted COVID-19.