Harlem so lush with beauty, rich with history, is perhaps the cultural bastion of America.
I think that today’s Harlem exists because America did not live up to its proclamation of “Reconstruction.”
Yet another swift kick in the teeth to African Americans.
Yet another move to destroy her own citizens.
I do not understand America’s racist agenda for in reality all
of America suffers if one of us suffers.
Harlem is a place created by racism, nurtured by artistic brilliance.
I have wanted to visit since reading David Levering Lewis.
“When Harlem Was In Vogue.”
I think that much of it began as an Astor getaway from central Manhattan.
Just before my trip I was made aware of a particular group of very beautiful buildings that I ought to visit.
They were called The Beautiful Ladies.
I found all of Harlem to be beautiful, and my visit too short.
This rich cultural heritage created by so many African American Artists, Entrepreneurs, Poets, Novelists, Play Writes, Dancers, people who populated the studies of my youth and made them rich in color and excitement.
I soaked up James Baldwin’s anger at fifteen.
I dreamt of visiting Richard Wright in Paris when very young.
Today I read his haiku.
So much life breathes in Harlem today exuding artistic expression.
I felt her actively sweating, as I stood at her crossroads.
On a warm and breezy summer night after a fine meal at the Red Rooster 310 Lenox Avenue.
I simply stood in the dusk on 125th street at Malcolm X. The epicenter of the world for so many Americans.
I stood, I felt, I absorbed the depth of Harlem’s pleasures, her rich and varied history.
I let it seep deep within my bones. I was finally here, at last standing in a place to which I had longed to come.
I have long known Phyllis Wheatley, Claude MacKay, Jean Toomer, David Levering Lewis, Langston Hughes.
Where would America be without them?
Phyllis was the first African American woman to publish a book.
She did so in 1773.
There were Countee Cullen, Nella Larson, W.E.B. Dubois,
James Weldon Johnson. I have a library rich in Harlem’s history – filled with my friends.
I was young but I educated myself for wanting to know my fellow man and woman.
Believe me, if you are an American and you do not know one of those names, you know nothing.
Phyllis Wheatley a classical poet.
Do you know what JWJ did for the NAACP?
If you cannot recount at least ten facts of the Harlem Renaissance then you are not educated.
You are lacking in the depth and breath of America’s richest heritage.
To be educated in the ways of white history in America
without knowing African American history is to be greatly lacking.
You will be missing vital knowledge, knowledge that makes you whole.
You are not educated at all.
Surely you have read Arna Bontemps. Oh how I wish that I could go back in time!
Go back to Harlem’s Golden Age. Go back and join the rich gathering of Harlem’s Renaissance, go back and breathe in the
essence of their poetry, feel the rhythms, peek at Marcus Garvey’s parade. And Harlem had parades. Oh yes!
They had parades.
They all lined the streets to welcome home
The Fifteenth Regiment of New York’s National Guard in February of 1919.
Posted at dVerse Poets Pub openlinknight.