Every once in a while, a traveler, comes across a place that grasps their souls. Imagine a place that has so much life, history and culture that it ends up seducing you into its dark alleys to quench your thirst of knowing about a place that many wish they could call home. Oh, Harlem, what a gem you are! What started out as a farmland occupied by Native Americans and, later on, the Dutch has now become one of the main focal points of African-American culture. While it became home during the Great Migration to those leaving the South behind, Harlem provided more than just that. The neighborhood had become a safe haven and community where black culture did not have to be hidden or whispered about but could be heard from all the surrounding areas. The amount of life that booms through the streets of Harlem at night now was even more vivacious back then.
One of the biggest movements was the Harlem Renaissance. Artistic creativity oozed out of this community luring people to satisfy their curiosity on how blacks, at that time, could be responsible for such talent and intelligence. This would be the start to Harlem making a name for itself, worldwide. Visionaries like Langston Hughes, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Augusta Savage and, dance legend, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson created art and history that would become unforgettable. After the Harlem Renaissance, with no fear, emerged the Civil Rights Movement, which would shake the nation. This country would see a fight that they would’ve never thought would come. Civil rights leaders like Malcolm X and Queen Mother Moore used Harlem as a platform to spread the word of human rights and the uplifting of African Diaspora. Harlem was, and still is, its very own voice, becoming a breeding ground for those who have uplifted and made their culture known to the world. Some call Harlem the “Black Mecca” of the world, despite the different races, cultures and religions the neighborhood occupies.
As these movements have passed, Harlem has yet to have another like those two but is always consistently changing. Harlem has definitely proven itself to be a survivor, picking itself up and slowly progressing towards bettering the community. So tight-knit, the community supports one another, making it possible for black-owned businesses to start up in the neighborhood. Home to the Apollo Theatre, The Harlem School of the Arts, which I attended while in middle school, and even the Harlem Globetrotters; one of the things that one has to admire about Harlem is it always rises from the flames and makes the voices of its occupants heard. Harlem has become and, strongly believe, always will be, a strong community of black culture that would be hard for anyone to try and take away.