Today was one of the richest engagements with American culture. It began with a Gospel service at the Canaan Baptist Church which was one of the most moving experiences I have ever witnessed. The preacher spoke about the difficulties of our own times and invited to the stage one of the leaders of the New York and Washington marches against discrimination (sexual, racial, political…); the choir music was awe inspiring, liberating and engaged the whole body.
We then moved down to Lenox Avenue (also named Malcolm X Boulevard) where a number of our texts have their locations: Toni Morrison and Langston Hughes:
Take the Lenox Avenue busses,
And for your love song tone their rumble down.
Take Harlem’s heartbeat
Make a drumbeat,
Put it on a record, let it whirl…
Here are Cedric and Marissa (our guides) talking about Malcolm X and Lenox Avenue:
And here is Eric talking about the Harlem Writers Centre and Marissa speaking about James Baldwin:
And here is our fabulous guide Cedric (also a Jazz singer)- with Merissa- speaking about Maya Angelou’s Brownstone house:
And here is our expert historian guide Marissa (with Eric) speaking on the Studio Museum of Art:
Here is Merissa speaking on the significance of the Amsterdam News:
Cedric speaking on the Apollo Theatre:
Cedric, Eric and Merissa speaking about the history of tensions in Harlem and about the YMCA:
And we were greeted with a powerful real presence in the form of this young musician who challenged us to support the music arts in Harlem…
We then moved on to the Schomburg Centre the cornerstone of African American black writing in Harlem. Cedric, Merissa and Eric commented:
Finally we had Eric reading us a wonderful piece from Jack Kerouac as a closure to our amazing tour through Harlem:
Thank you Eric, Merissa and Cedric for a wonderful introduction to the riches of Harlem.