Harlem, Then and Now
Harlem is the symbolic birthplace of words that have transcended time. The space that nurtured the creative voices of great authors still serves as a well from which contemporary writers draw to create visual and literary images with Harlem as a backdrop. I fell in love with Harlem in the late 1960s, when librarians introduced me to books written by noted authors of the Harlem Renaissance. The first was Richard Wright’s 1938, Uncle Tom’s Children, a compilation of short stories describing southern racist atrocities that ultimately grieved my spirit. Reading Big Boy Leaves Home fostered an aesthetic response that shaped my seventh grade conceptualization of what I now know as the epitome of “othering”. Years later, Walter Dean Myers’novels transported me into exciting young lives often intersecting at Lennox Ave and 145th ST. Contemporary authors and illustrators continue to celebrate Harlem. Whether it is Bryan Collier’s realistic chocolate visual representation of a Harlem brownstone in Uptown, the poetic voice and vivid illustrations in Myers and Myers Harlem, or Eleanor Tate’s adolescence exploration in Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance, the geographical setting for great literature is still a special place. The literature presented in this column (Between the Covers, published in National Black Child Development Institute Child Health Talk) was chosen to convey that to readers, and whet their literary appetites with a cornucopia of contemporary realistic fiction, historical fiction, and non-fiction set in Harlem, NYC. Grab a book, take a seat and let’s go Uptown!
To obtain a copy of this column go to: