23 7 / 2014

writingblackness:


"Writing Blackness: Harlem|Paris is an exploration of the Harlem Renaissance through the Schomburg Center collection.  he exhibit was inspired by the idea of literary salons as convening physical spaces where dialogue and exchange of ideas is fostered among intellectuals and cultural producers.
Writing Blackness aims to incite intellectual engagement by making archval material accessible and “activating” the Schomburg Commection in a living space—literally, a 2 bedroom apartment in an affordable housing, educational and cultural arts mixed-use development— where ideas are exchanged, argued, and where all participants are equally equipped and invested in the conversation.
June 25-August 10, 2014
155 Street & St. Nicholas Avenue, NY, NY
Join the conversation: 
#writingblackness

Above:
The Team: Jeanine Alvaraz (Social Media Coordinator), Ladi’Sasha Jones (Curator), Joseph “JR” Sanders (Designer), and Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf (Curator) | Photo Credit, Terrence Jennings

writingblackness:

"Writing Blackness: Harlem|Paris is an exploration of the Harlem Renaissance through the Schomburg Center collection.  he exhibit was inspired by the idea of literary salons as convening physical spaces where dialogue and exchange of ideas is fostered among intellectuals and cultural producers.

Writing Blackness aims to incite intellectual engagement by making archval material accessible and “activating” the Schomburg Commection in a living space—literally, a 2 bedroom apartment in an affordable housing, educational and cultural arts mixed-use development— where ideas are exchanged, argued, and where all participants are equally equipped and invested in the conversation.

June 25-August 10, 2014

155 Street & St. Nicholas Avenue, NY, NY

Join the conversation: 

#writingblackness

Above:

The Team: Jeanine Alvaraz (Social Media Coordinator), Ladi’Sasha Jones (Curator), Joseph “JR” Sanders (Designer), and Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf (Curator) | Photo Credit, Terrence Jennings

23 7 / 2014

The riots began in Harlem, New York following the shooting of fifteen year-old James Powell by a white off-duty police officer on July 18, 1964. Charging that the incident was an act of police brutality, an estimated eight thousand Harlem residents took to streets and launched a large-scale riot, breaking widows, setting fires and looting local businesses.

The eruption of violence soon spread to Brooklyn, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and continued for six days, resulting in the death of one resident, over one hundred injuries, and more than 450 arrests.

As the civil unrest in New York City began to cool, another riot broke out upstate, in Rochester, New York. Like the Harlem Riot, the Rochester Riot stemmed from an alleged act of police brutality. For three days, violent protesters overturned automobiles, burned buildings, and looted stores causing over one million dollars worth of damages. Following Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s mobilization of the state’s National Guard, public order was restored to Rochester on July 26. The New York Race Riots of 1964 highlighted the racial injustice and growing civil unrest existing in northern cities and served as a powerful indicator of the urgent need for social and economic reforms for African American communities outside of the South.

-The Civil Rights Digital Library: http://crdl.usg.edu/events/ny_race_riots/ 

11 6 / 2014

This is a really interesting article on Hurston’s anthropological research, and anybody interested in Mules and Men or anybody who has read it should really look into this article!!

29 5 / 2014

Mr. Wilder, a history professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has a new book, “Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities,” which argues provocatively that the nation’s early colleges, alongside church and state, were “the third pillar of a civilization based on bondage.”

He also has a lot more company in the archives. Since 2003, when Ruth Simmons, then the president of Brown University, announced a headline-grabbing initiative to investigate that university’s ties to slavery, scholars at William and Mary, Harvard, Emory, the University of Maryland, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and elsewhere have completed their own studies.

And that tide is far from over. Last spring, a historian at Princeton began an undergraduate research seminar on the little-explored connections between that university and slavery. In September, the president of the University of Virginia announced a 27-member commission charged with recommending ways to commemorate the university’s “historical relationship with slavery and enslaved people,” in advance of its bicentennial, beginning in 2017.

29 5 / 2014

A Democracy Now! discussion with Massachusetts Institute of Technology American History Professor Craig Steven Wilder the author of Ebony and Ivy.  Very interesting interview and a preview of the book and history that is discussed within it.

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29 5 / 2014

As I/this tumblr am/is based out of Barnard College at Columbia University I have a deep interest in the relationship between the history of blackness in the United States and the ivy league and, more broadly, race and older institutions of higher education.  

With this disclaimer I’m letting you all know that I will be posting a lot about this book right now (so, not Harlem related).  I’ll go back to Harlem specific posting soon I only just came across this book in a bookstore today.

12 5 / 2014

librosviejos:

Art celebrating Billie Holiday (200 block of Durham Street, Upper Fell’s Point, Baltimore. April 5th, 2014)

I always admired the beautiful Billie Holiday mural and mosaic on the corner of Pratt and Durham whenever I drove by, and even stopped once to show them to my kids.  So yesterday I decided to take the time to appreciate them.  What I hadn’t realized was that, in addition to the mural and mosaic seen from the corner, there are many other works of art celebrating her memory, down the block (between Pratt and Gough Streets).  It’s all part of the “S. Durham Billie Holiday Project”, launched last year, which also includes painted window screens and streetscaping.

Coincidentally, tomorrow (April 7th) is Billie Holiday’s 99th birthday, and yesterday there was a public celebration there, which I had just missed.  Next year’s 100th birthday promises to be epic!

Born in Philadelphia, Billie Holiday (1915-1959) grew up on this block (houses 217 and 219) in Baltimore (from where her mother originally was), before moving to Harlem, New York, in 1929. [Wikipedia]

12 5 / 2014

Frank Sinatra didn’t cry for friends Humphrey Bogart or Joe Kennedy but he cried for Billie Holiday. Sinatra visited Holiday on her deathbed in a run down New York facility, ‘Harlem Metropolitan Hospital.’ Holiday was dying of cirrhosis and she was dying from heroin…Three cops were stationed outside of her hospital door.  A beautician was inside doing her hair and nails and she was smoking outside of her oxygen tent and begging the nurse to get her a beer.  She’d say catchy things like “Don’t trust that bitch.  She can take the gold out of your teeth while you’re chewing gum.” Holiday’s spirit was feisty but her body was defeated.

She was thrilled to see Frank Sinatra. He told her how much he loved her recent album ‘Lady In Satin’ and he tried to get her to talk about future projects. He told her, “I owe you so much for teaching me how to phrase when I was starting out with Harry James.” Holiday replied, “I may have showed you how to bend a note, Frankie, that’s all.” Later that day, Holiday’s liver failed and she went into a coma and died.

Sinatra locked himself in his penthouse and wept for two days, playing her songs and drinking and crying.  I had never seen him hurt so much, not even for ex-wife Ava Gardner.”

-George Jacobs, Frank Sinatra’s valet

(Source: billiesholiday)

12 5 / 2014

75 years ago, on this date, Billie Holiday recorded a song that Time Magazine would call song of the century: Strange Fruit, a song written about a lynching in the South. 

Holiday first performed the song at Cafe Society in 1939. She said that singing it made her fearful of retaliation but, because its imagery reminded her of her father, she continued to sing the piece making it a regular part of her live performances. Because of the poignancy of the song, Josephson drew up some rules: Holiday would close with it; the waiters would stop all service in advance; the room would be in darkness except for a spotlight on Holiday’s face; and there would be no encore. During the musical introduction, Holiday would stand with her eyes closed, as if she were evoking a prayer.

(Source: salsmineo)

12 5 / 2014

Above: The Grand Harlem Opera House in mosaic at the 125th street subway station

Below: The Grand Harlem Opera House, late 1800s early 1900s.  Former location: 207 W 125th street, Harlem

The Grand Harlem Opera House was the first theatre constructed by Oscar Hammerstein an example of the early Harlem music scene: opera.

Envisioning the needs of a fast-growing metropolis, he built more than 50 residences there. To entice the downtown populace uptown, he built his first theatre in 1889, the Harlem Opera House, on 125th Street. Oscar presented the big-name,  downtown talents of the day - Edwin Booth, Joseph Jefferson, Georgie Drew Barrymore, Lillian Russell, Fanny Davenport, E.H. Sothern, Margaret Mather, Otis Skinner and Helena Modjeska.  In l890, Oscar built and managed his second theatre, also on 125th Street - the Columbus Theatre - which presented lighter theatrical fare - George M. Cohan, Chauncey Olcott, Walter Damrosch and countless others. In 1893, Oscar built his third theatre - the first Manhattan Opera House on 34th Street.

Hammerstein, however, could not make the Harlem Opera House a financial success, and he was soon lured downtown to build his most renown theaters (and places that would later inspire his grandson Oscar Hammerstein II.)  The Harlem Opera House was sold and transformed into a more traditional vaudeville house.  By the 1930s, to compete with the thriving amateur nights over at the Apollo, the Harlem Opera House had its own amateur nights.  Its most notable discovery is one of the greatest names in music — Ella Fitzgerald.

The Opera House was torn down in 1959.  Surprisingly, it appears there was the possibility of a new opera house in Harlem being built in the late 1960s, under the guidance of Gian Carlo Menotti, but that never panned out.  However, the operatic tradition lives on today with the Harlem Opera Theater, founded in 2001.

Citation for this post includes this Bowery Boys NYC history post, and this biography of Oscar Hammerstein.