Talks at the Schomburg: Zines: Elaborate Disruption and Black Creativity

Jun 27, 2017 6:30pm – 8:30pm

The resurgence of zines—self-published limited-distribution works—is stemming the tide of erasure, disrupting publishing, and offering creative spaces for diverse voices within marginalized communities. Remembering zines like FIRE!!, created in 1926 and “devoted to the young negro artist,” author Steven G. Fullwood will join in conversation with contemporary zine creators Devin N. Morris (3 Dot Zine), Nontsikelelo Mutiti (Nontsi), Kevin Harry (KHzines), and Jermel Moody (maple:koyo) to elaborate on their zine-making practices and impact on publishing and creativity. The program will also feature a marketplace of zines selected in collaboration with Morris, Moody, and the Schomburg Shop.

FIRE!! contributors included Harlem Renaissance figures Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Aaron Douglas. @SchomburgCenter #SchomburgZines

Cost: FREE! Registration via
RSVP. First come, first seated. For free events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. All registered seats are released 15 to 30 minutes before start time, so we recommend that you arrive early.
Contact: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Location: 515 Malcolm X Boulevard at 135th Street, New York NY 10037 US


City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito failed to disclose $92G in rental income to city

She releases her federal tax forms saying she reported to the IRS every dime in rent she received on her East Harlem townhouse from 2009 through 2012. But she neglected to disclose this steady income on her Conflict of Interest Board forms during those years.

Melissa Mark-Viverito did not report any rental income to the Internal Revenue Service on two condos in which she has a 33% stake in Puerto Rico.

Melissa Mark-Viverito did not report any rental income to the Internal Revenue Service on two condos in which she has a 33% stake in Puerto Rico.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito failed to report $92,600 in rental income from her East Harlem townhouse on city disclosure forms, she admitted in documents released late Friday.

Mark-Viverito for the first time released her federal tax forms and said she reported to the taxman every dime in rent she received on the townhouse from 2009 through 2012.


But she neglected to disclose this steady stream of income on her Conflict of Interest Board forms — which are public documents — during those years.

Her spokesman, Eric Koch, declined to explain the omission, stating in a terse email that the forms “show she paid taxes on the rental income on her property.”


Mark-Viverito did not report any rental income to the Internal Revenue Service on two condos in which she has a 33% stake in Puerto Rico.

Late Friday, the real estate website Zillow listed one of those properties as a hot rental, stating, “The building generates $104,000 of income annually.”


Mark-Viverito’s spokesman, Koch, said she received no income from the Puerto Rican properties.

The News raised questions last week — before Mark-Viverito was elected speaker — about rental income at her East Harlem home after discovering several individuals registered to vote at her address.


She admitted she hadn’t revealed rental income there on her city disclosure forms but declined to release her tax forms or provide details on her tenants and how much rent they pay.

In releasing her tax forms Friday, Mark-Viverito continued to refuse to answer those questions about her tenants.


The law requires some 8,000 city employees to report any outside income to the COIB to ensure transparency in city government.

Records show that in 2007 and 2008, Mark-Viverito reported her rental income on her city disclosure forms, but that income disappeared from the forms between 2009 and 2012.


Each year she reported to the IRS that she received between $20,200 and $29,200 in rent on the “apartment portion” of her E. 111th St. townhouse.

She bought the home in 1998 under a program meant to encourage home ownership for lower-income New Yorkers. She was approved for a no-interest city subsidized mortgage and she got a property tax break that continues each year.


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Easing the Passage From Prison

Irving Brewster, with his 5-year-old daughter on his lap, held his certificate at a “graduation” ceremony for ex-offenders who completed a nine-month re-entry program at the Harlem Community Justice Center.

Irving Brewster, with his 5-year-old daughter on his lap, held his certificate at a “graduation” ceremony for ex-offenders who completed a nine-month re-entry program at the Harlem Community Justice Center.

As family and friends made their way through the metal detector and past the uniformed guards, Lloyd Williams sat off to the side, going over his speech, mumbling to himself. In a few moments, the courtroom in the Harlem Community Justice Center would be filled with parolees turned graduates. After spending half his life in prison, Mr. Williams, 46, wearing a crisp suit and tie, was the valedictorian of sorts, one of the night’s guest speakers.

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At Harlem Arts School, New Chief Hits Her Stride

An ordinary Saturday at the Harlem School of the Arts finds children in black tights learning dance moves, pecking away at keyboards or torturing clay into intricate shapes. Given its recent travails, ordinary is most desirable here.

Yvette L. Campbell, president and chief executive of the Harlem School of the Arts.

In April of 2010, financial problems led to a three-week shutdown. Even now, the community arts school, which for more than 35 years has helped tens of thousands of children receive arts training, faces a debt of $2 million with no endowment, a fraction of its former attendance and only 2 of its 32 pianos in good condition. But thanks to the efforts of a new chief executive and a constellation of other supporters, the Harlem School of the Arts does have one thing that has long been in short supply: optimism.

Yvette L. Campbell, in her first year (she started in January) as president and chief executive, has cajoled $2 million from donors both old and new, trimmed the operating budget by 30 percent and won the support of other arts and academic organizations.

Little ballerinas at a classical dance class at the Harlem School of the Arts

“We’re doing what we said we were going to do,” said Ms. Campbell, 45, who was a dancer with the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble and Elisa Monte Dance and the former administrator of the Ailey extension program. “It’s been quality arts. I see the possibilities and I am trying to get believers on my train.”

Her believers include Geoffrey Canada, the president and chief economic officer of the Harlem Children’s Zone. He has started sending hundreds of children from his education and social service program to the school at 645 St. Nicholas Avenue (at 141st Street) for classes in the school’s four divisions: dance, music, theater and visual arts.

And Lincoln Center is considering a partnership with the school. Reynold Levy, the president of Lincoln Center and a member of the school’s advisory council, called Ms. Campbell “a force of nature” who has built relationships and trust with people now committed to seeing the school survive. “By the time she walks out of your office, you’re sold,” he said.

Saving the nonprofit school is a major concern, particularly in Harlem. Founded in 1964 when the concert soprano Dorothy Maynor gave piano lessons at a nearby church, the Harlem School of the Arts has its roots in the struggles of the 1960s, when many black children did not have easy access to arts training.

Sketches by students in a fashion design class. The school offers wide-ranging courses in dance, music, theater and the visual arts.

Since then it’s expanded to include community and summer programs and some that it runs in public schools. The children’s program charges tuition for group and private lessons for students 2 through 18. The cost for a semester (17 weeks) of classes is generally under $1,000. The courses are wide-ranging: piano, voice, percussion, tap, ballet, hip-hop, playwriting, acting, drawing, photography and graphic design, among others.

The prep program is a selective pre-professional, scholarship course of study for students 12 through 18. Though not a full-fledged school offering arts and academics, like LaGuardia, the performing arts high school, it provides advanced training in all four arts divisions, and its students (including Giancarlo Esposito) have gone on to conservatories like Juilliard, as well as to Broadway and feature films.

“We will not allow this institution to fail; it’s far too important,” said Charles J. Hamilton Jr., a senior counsel at the law firm Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, who became the chairman of the school’s board in 2010. “This school saves lives, period. It produces extraordinary young people who go off in life with an appreciation for life and an appreciation of themselves. There aren’t a lot of other institutions in our community that do that.”

The school is increasingly important as financial support for arts education has been whittled away in the public schools, some education and arts leaders say. School funds for art supplies, musical instruments and equipment declined by almost 80 percent from the 2006-7 school year to the 2009-10 school year, according to a report by the Center for Arts Education, which works to expand arts education opportunities for New York public school students.

The choice between academics and arts education is a false one, Mr. Canada said.

“To think that poor children are going to have a full education experience without this exposure is a mistake,” he said. “We’re thinking about the time that children are not in school, and just watching TV or playing video games is not an option.”

The news that the school had run out of money hit Harlem hard, especially since few had any idea it was in such bad shape.

A report in The New York Times in 2010 showed that by 2004, the school was in trouble and losing donors. Its $2 million surplus had turned into a deficit; nearly half a million in payroll taxes had gone unpaid; and a $1.5 million grant and the proceeds from a $1 million loan could not be accounted for.

The school was able to reopen because of a $1 million gift from four donors and the assistance of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other city officials, who helped picked the board that hired Ms. Campbell.

“What we found simply was a diamond,” Mr. Hamilton said of Ms. Campbell, a mother of two with a bachelor’s degree in both applied mathematics and dramatic art-dance. “She has this energy, this spirit, this motion. She connects with parents and with students. And she’s not afraid of a spreadsheet.”

The school just feels better, said Susan Lee, who has spent 12 years taking her 16-year-old daughter, Nicole Hines, to the school, first for “Mommy and Me” programs and now for dance lessons. Since Ms. Campbell arrived, board members come to events, and parents are welcome at board meetings; administrators are approachable; and teachers no longer complain about not being paid, she said.

This semester the school is serving more than 2,400 students citywide, including 500 in the building. (Some programs are held outside the main headquarters.) At its peak in the early ’90s, the school served 3,000 students citywide.

For the first time in many years, the school is offering financial aid to students, and has its first early-childhood classes for ages 2 through 4. Ms. Campbell, whose paternal grandfather was Lincoln Perry, the actor known as Stepin Fetchit, has hired high-profile teachers, like Maria Ahn to teach cello. Aubrey Lynch II, a former Ailey dancer and a choreographer and producer who appeared in the original cast of “The Lion King,” now presides over the dance division and a new musical theater program.

To increase visibility, Ms. Campbell and her students have spent the last year getting around. In September the visual arts students appeared on an episode of the Lifetime TV show “Project Runway,” which features fashion design competitions. And last month dance students performed at the Apollo Theater during the Bessie Awards, while theater students performed a dramatic piece at the Jewish Museum during a day to celebrate the work of the author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats.

“These are tough times, but tough times are when you need the arts,” Ms. Campbell said. “The Harlem Renaissance, blues, jazz, hip-hop — they all came out of hard times and the possibility of change.”


One of Harlem’s A-List couples graces the cover of Uptown Magazine

It’s Spring time! That means it’s time for magazines to feature the most beautiful people on the planet on the cover. Uptown Magazine falls in line and starts off April right by pleasing the eye. In their annual Gourmet Issue, one of Harlem’s A-List couples graces the April cover. It is Red Rooster Harlem owner and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson and his drop dead gorgeous wife and model Gate Maya Haile.

For the Gourmet edition, the Samuelsson’s gave Uptown Mag incredible access. The Harlem couple allowed the magazine to photograph them all over Red Rooster. Take a look at the behind the scenes coverage. The pictures and video are incredible. If you can get past that part, feel free to click on over here to read what’s inside Uptown Magazine’s Gourmet Issue!

By HarlemGal

Ebony Escapes! to celebrate ‘All Things Harlem’

This must be the year for beautiful travel guides, because quite a few of them have been coming across my desk lately. I don’t know about you, but although some of the technological popularity of the day seems to lean toward electronic book formats, I still love the look and feel of a traditional print book—one that I can thumb through and feel the paper, delve into the photography, curl up with in a chair, airline seat, hotel lobby or patio, and enjoy as a wonderful addition to my coffee table at home.

One of the latest I have received is the “Harlem Travel Guide,” composed by Carolyn Johnson, president, writer and CEO of Welcome to Harlem, and editor and writer Valerie Jo Bradley. The book has been described by some as “the definitive bible to one of New York’s most fascinating places.” Whether you are visiting Harlem for the first time or are a long-time resident, the “Harlem Travel Guide” highlights and celebrates “all things Harlem.”

This beautiful book is conveniently organized into well defined, easily accessible sections and directions for each of Harlem’s distinct Central, East and West neighborhoods, leading readers to everything from nightlife and entertainment such as jazz, Latin salsa and classical music, to parks and free recreational activities, wonderful accommodations, walking and bus tours, museums that celebrate New York’s multifarious cultures, culinary adventures from soul food to French historic landmarks and so much more.

One of the things that makes the “Harlem Travel Guide” so unique in its exploration of people and places is that it delves further than the typical New York travel guide with no more than two to three pages devoted to sites in Harlem, or a bus tour that offers only a passing glance at some of the more well-known sights from inside the bus.


The 350-year history of Harlem alone is a testament to all of the cultural richness it possesses. Originally inhabited by Native Americans, followed by the British, Dutch, Jewish, people of African descent, Irish, Latinos and other ethnic groups, Harlem is an incredible amalgamation of culture, music, gastronomy, entrepreneurship, politics, art and more, which deserves more than a passing nod.

For example, did you know that every August the Dance of the Giglio and Feast is celebrated in East Harlem, which used to be a primarily Italian neighborhood? Founded in the late 1880s in Brusciano, Italy to honor Saint Antonio, this tradition draws throngs of Italian families back to celebrate the feast that includes 125 men carrying a 5-ton, five-story, hand-sculpted tower and 12-piece brass band on their shoulders while dancing through the neighborhood to Italian folk songs.

How about that, in Central Harlem, families can enjoy catch-and-release fishing at the Harlem Meer—Dutch for

“lake”—located in the northern portion of Central Park? Harlem Meer was established in part as a tribute to the 17th century European settlers who first inhabited Harlem. Today it is a thriving wildlife habitat chock full of fish, waterfowl, turtles and other water creatures.

This is just the beginning of all of the wonderful treasures featured in the “Harlem Travel Guide.”

As the third most visited tourist destination in New York City, Harlem has rightfully earned, and deserves, a resource that explores and celebrates everything from its early roots to its perseverance and the revitalization that has made it a vibrant destination for residents and tourists alike.

“Our 250-page book is the first of its kind to focus exclusively on Harlem,” says Bradley. “We recognize that

for years people have visited Harlem, but primarily on tour buses of which they rarely get off. We want people’s feet to hit the ground to explore Guide” does mention many of the iconic, world-renowned sites and attractions such as the Apollo Theater, Abyssinian Baptist Church and Sylvia’s restaurant, it includes so much more of the city’s rich history that is largely unknown and, as a result, unexplored.

“Harlem has been reinvigorated with the addition of new and exciting restaurants, shops, fine art galleries, revitalized parks that offer free recreational activities, unrivaled cultural events, guest accommodations and much more,” Bradley says. “Due to preservation efforts that have saved historic buildings from being razed, and to the housing and economic development renaissance that has transformed vacant buildings and lots, Harlem has become a more exciting place for people to live and visit.”

The “Harlem Travel Guide” has received rave reviews from readers around the world who are amazed at all that Harlem has to offer. Bradley remembers one response she and Johnson received from visitors from Brussels in particular. “[They had] purchased the book [and] enjoyed telling us about the places they visited in Harlem like Billie’s Black and Amy Ruth’s restaurants, and the legendary Apollo Amateur Night. This was not their first visit to New York, but it was their first time staying in Harlem. They had such a good experience that they plan to recommend a visit to Harlem to friends. Even long-time residents have told us that they learned new things about Harlem after reading [it].”

For those who do enjoy or prefer digital book formats, the “Harlem Travel Guide” has been formatted for use on the Kindle, iPad and Android devices. ”We feel it is important to reach out to younger audiences, and we consider it part of the market we are pursuing,” Bradley explains. “However, we recognize that not everyone has access to the hardware or possesses the know-how to access information by using the new technology. For that population, there is the traditional print book.

“Many older readers and [others] still prefer the print book format, and this market travels because they have more time and resources. Also, the print book is a marketing tool. Numerous people have told us that when they refer to the book when they are on the street, people stop them to ask where they purchased the book. To us, that’s a good thing!”

In addition to the information and photographs included in each section of the book, Johnson and Bradley have featured user-friendly maps, easy to understand directions, individual restaurant, retail, accommodation and attraction locations, annual events, useful information about walking and bus tours, where to post letters, hail a cab and how to locate the nearest Internet cafe.

The “Harlem Travel Guide” is available online at, (in print and electronic format) and at the Welcome to Harlem Visitor Center, located at 2360 Frederick Douglass Blvd., between 126th and 127th streets. A less expensive version of the book (printed in black and white) is also available at Barnes and Nobles stores and at For more information, you can also contact Welcome to Harlem at (212) 662-7779 or (888) 391-7480.

By LYSA ALLMAN-BALDWIN – The New York Amsterdam News March 17 – Marhc 23, 2011

Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications, including as the cultural travel writer for and as a senior travel writer for, an Afrocentric travel website. Lysa can be reached at

Morningside Park in Harlem is Adding Green Space

The northern end of the Olmstead-designed park will get a new playground and more greenery.

HARLEM — Morningside Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the same duo who designed Central Park.

But the park, known for its vistas overlooking Harlem, hasn’t always gotten the same respect as its famous cousin, falling into disrepair and developing a reputation for being unsafe. But now that the Parks Department is set to start a two-phase renovation plan for the northern end of the park, residents are hoping that will change.

“We recognize that unlike Central Park we don’t have a lot of private funds coming in,” said Brad Taylor, a board member and former president of Friends of Morningside Park, a group devoted to park upkeep that tried 11 years ago to start a renovation project. “We can’t raise tens of millions of dollars like they do. When it comes to public dollars, we understand these things take time.”

Children at a gathering in Morningside Park. (Courtesy Friends of Morningside Park)

The Parks Department was expected to unveil its plans Wednesday night for renovating the northern end of the park from West 121st to West 123rd streets. The changes include renovating the playground, handball courts, basketball courts and water spray area. Entrances and pathways will also be improved along with new plantings.

Taylor said the northern end of the park has a lot of asphalt.

“The overall goal at the north end is to make it more park-like. Now, it has high metal fences and looks like the 1940s recreation center that it is,” he said. “Our goal is to make it more park-like and more green and get it closer to the Olmsted design.”

Given the park’s designation as a historic landmark in 2008, the Parks Department will also have to seek approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Parks spokesman Philip Abramson said several improvements have taken place at the park over the years. The playground at West 116th Street was renovated in 2006.

New gardens greet visitors to the park at five of its entrances and a rare, 25 foot tall sequoia tree was donated in 2009 by a nursery in Portland, Ore. It sits at West 121st Street with 32 other pine trees. A dog run and a seasonal farmers market now helps draw people to the park.

New development is also sprouting on Morningside Avenue, and Taylor said the park is benefitting from the gentrification of the Frederick Douglass Boulevard corridor.

“The word is getting out there more and more and the landmark process in 2008 helped,” said Taylor. “These upcoming changes are going to have a real effect on the people who live near the park. The goal is to have more green space available to the people.”
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Bobby Robinson, Harlem legend dead

BOBBY ROBINSON, whose tiny record shop on Harlem‘s 125th St. spawned No. 1 national hits and made him an uptown patriarch for six decades, died.

He was 93 and had been ill for several years – though he regularly went to work at his shop until it was forced to close in January 2008.

Impeccably dressed, well-spoken and ambitious to make his mark in the entertainment business, Robinson opened Bobby’s Happy House in 1946.

His shop was the first black-owned business on 125th St., and within five years he used it to launch a series of record labels.

Sometimes working with his brother Danny, who also had an office on 125th St., Robinson recorded hundreds of artists from Gladys Knight and the Pips to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Knight’s first hit, “Every Beat of My Heart,” was released on Robinson’s Fury label.

Robinson, a South Carolina native, had a No. 1 national hit in 1959 with Wilbert Harrison‘s “Kansas City” – and said years later that a hit of that magnitude crippled his business because he had to press so many copies he couldn’t promote any other artists.

But his Red Robin, Whirlin’ Disc, Fire, Fury and Enjoy labels became legendary in the rhythm and blues world, and his releases by artists like the Channels, Teenchords and Scarlets helped define the sound of the New York streets through the 1950s.

Robinson ultimately recorded a wide range of artists that included the great bluesman Elmore James, whom Robinson inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In the late 1970s, Robinson became one of the first label owners to record rap music, cutting artists like Flash, Doug E. Fresh and Spoonie Gee.

Robinson eventually had to move the shop around the corner in the late 1990s, and he closed for good on Jan. 21, 2008, when his new landlord decided to raze the building for a development.

“I’ve seen 125th St. at its best and worst,” Robinson said in late 2007. “And I’ll tell you, there’s no more exciting place in the world.”

A Visit to the Red Rooster in Harlem

This weekend I went with my digital to the grand opening of the Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem. Red Rooster is the latest restaurant from Chef Marcus Samuelsson. It is located in the center of Harlem at 310 Lenox Avenue and there really is nothing in the area quite like it. In addition to winning Top Chef Masters, Marcus Samuelsson was the guest chef at the first State Dinner of the Obama administration. The restaurant is meant to be a neighborhood spot and it is an asset to the area.

It is spacious with a large bar in the front and a dining room with an open kitchen in the back. There is a communal table right near the kitchen and it’s a fun place to sit because you can see the chef in action. The menu at Red Rooster features home-style American cuisine. It’s one of those menus where it was hard to decide what to order because it all sounded so good. While you are looking at the menu you should order the cornbread with tomato jam as a snack. Marcus Samuelsson was raised in Sweden and offers Swedish meatballs as an appetizer based on his grandmother’s recipe. Helga’s meatballs are served with mashed potatoes and a lingonberry sauce.

The entrees range from fried yard bird to steak frites. They also have a vegetarian macaroni and cheese mixed with collard greens. My dining companion had the fried chicken and said it was extremely tender and one of the best versions around. It’s served with white mace gravy and a shaker filled with a spicy seasoning. I love sweet potatoes so I couldn’t resist ordering the sweet potato gratin. Usually, gratins are heavy and loaded with milk and cream. The Red Rooster version is made with orange juice so it’s much lighter and has a clean citrus flavor.

All of the portion sizes were generous and the prices were reasonable.

Of course, for dessert I ordered the sweet potato doughnuts. Other dessert items included roasted apple pie, black bottom peanut pie, coffee cup bread pudding, whiskey fudge and red velvet cup cakes. The doughnuts are served in paper cone with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon sugar. They are definitely worth going off the diet. Hopefully, more restaurateurs will open up in Harlem. It was a nice change to head uptown to a different area than downtown. Considering it was opening night the service at Red Rooster was lovely and very accommodating. The vibe of the restaurant was relaxed and it almost didn’t feel like New York. So many new and hip restaurants can sometimes feel jittery and rushed. The Red Rooster was nothing like that and I already want to go back.

Jordana Zizmor

New York-based food writer