Harlem Milliner Hosts ‘The Great American Hat Show’

Harriet Rosebud - Rosebud of New York

Harriet Rosebud – Rosebud of New York

HARLEM — Harriet Rosebud knows exactly how she wants a woman to feel when she slips on the black fascinator style hat with the delicate feathers that she designed and made by hand.

“The feathers are mysterious because they sweep the face,” said Rosebud. “I want a woman to feel elegant, vintage and classic.”

Rosebud, 53, has been designing and manufacturing hats for 20 years after she said she couldn’t find a nice one to fit her head.

After a two-year stint studying millinery at the Fashion Institute of Technology and another two working at a hat factory, Rosebud launched her own company called Rosebud of New York. She designs up to 4,000 hats per year from her home studio in Harlem.

Her collection includes everything from fascinators — the highly decorative pieces that sit on the side of the head attached by a band and made famous recently by Kate Middleton— to her $600 hat for the Kentucky Derby called the “Triple Crown.”

“It’s art, but it’s wearable art. That’s something I want people to understand and appreciate about hat-making,” Rosebud said.

The public will get that chance on Feb. 8 when Rosebud hosts “The Great American Hat Show” at St. James Presbyterian Church on 141st Street, a daylong event that will feature hat-making classes for adults and children and new hat collections.

“The show is to give the art form more exposure,” said Rosebud who also has a degree in political science from Florida State University. “It’s a real conversation about hats and what they mean to us.”

Hatmaking is a form of expression, said Rosebud who added that she dreams up fresh designs almost daily.

“I see something that inspires me and I’ll draw it out,” she said.

Millinery hasn’t changed much over time. Rosebud uses some of the same techniques that hat makers used centuries ago.

“A brim is a brim and a crown is a crown,” she said.

The only thing that has changed is the fabric. In the past, hats were made mostly of wool and straw. Today they can be made of almost anything including ribbon, satin, synthetic fabrics and mudcloth.

Rosebud said she’ll shape the hat on a mold using fabric before it goes through steaming, shaping and even a baking process. That shaped hat becomes the blank canvas where she plays with color before moving on to adding feathers, ribbons, crystals or silk flowers.

“Dressmakers start with a sketch, but most hat designers create the shape with molds and then design the hat. The hat is a blank canvas we paint on,” Rosebud said.

Rosebud is one of the most well-known African-American milliners in the country, especially after her collection of miniature hats took off a few years ago. She has clients in the U.S. and in Canada, some of whom will travel to The Great American Hat Show.

The Rev. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, chairwoman of Community Board 9,  is a prolific hat wearer who owns more than two dozen of Rosebud’s designs.

For President Barack Obama’s first inauguration, Rosebud made Morgan-Thomas a white wool hat with fox trim and a big buckle that was “blinging,” and gave the notable crystal bow hat that soul singer Aretha Franklin wore that day a run for its money.

“My hat was better than Aretha’s. She should have had a Harriet Rosebud creation,” Morgan-Thomas said.

For her son’s recent wedding, Morgan-Thomas hadn’t planned to wear a hat because she didn’t want to draw any attention away from the bride. But when her now daughter-in-law requested that Morgan-Thomas wear one of her trademark hats to the wedding, she turned to Rosebud, who created one with pearls around the brim.

“It was me: soft, feminine and yet outstanding,” joked Morgan-Thomas. “Her hats are always very chic, even the ones that are ostentatious.”

Rosebud credits her degree in political science for her interest in the sociology behind hats.

Hat designs often change with the country’s social and economic situation. In the 1920s the hat styles were more grand to reflect the booming economic times. But during the Great Depression and World War II, hats were plain based on the inaccessibility of supplies.

“A hat could denote your wealth,” Rosebud said.

She should know. Rosebud is putting the finishing touches on an $800 hat that is loaded with rhinestones and crystal. The “car payment,” as she facetiously calls it, will be stunning and worth every penny because hats are also a symbol of a feeling that the wearer is trying to display, she said.

The giant brim of the massive triple crown hat denotes a grandness associated with going to events like the Kentucky Derby. The black fascinator hat is playful but also a serious evening hat. For the black church women in Harlem, it’s all about large brims, tall crowns and bling.

“The more rhinestones the better. They look like Christmas trees,” Rosebud said.

Rosebud is working on purchasing her own small factory to produce her designs and can’t wait to unveil her new creations at The Great American Hat Show.

“America is a leader in fashion and I want to return the art form to greatness,” said Rosebud. “It’s very important to me that the art form doesn’t die.

The Great American Hat Show will be held Feb. 8, starting at 2 p.m. at the Dorothy Manor Theater at St. James Presbyterian, 409 W. 141st St. at St. Nicholas Avenue. Call (212) 690-1361, visit Harriet Rosebud Hats or email HarrietRosebud@gmail.com for more information.

By Jeff Mays on January 15, 2014 10:10am @JeffCMays

Marcus Samuelsson Wants Harlem to Talk About Art

adamsart-thumb-225x344Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Harlem (310 Lenox Avenue, 212-792-9001) and Ginny’s Supper Club have been far more than restaurants since they opened — the spots function as a kind of neighborhood nexus where a variety of cultural lightning rods cross paths. Local jazz bands and variety shows fill the stage at Ginny’s, and area artists contribute work that hangs on the establishments’ walls. And Samuelsson wants these elements to be far more than ambiance: He wants them to be part of an ongoing conversation about Harlem.

“Art and culture sit so well with Harlem and the Rooster,” he explains. “I think about our music and storytellers — chefs and artists are part of that segment. When I was building the Rooster, I thought, I know today’s artists and today’s storytellers, and I want them to walk into this restaurant. I’m not looking at art — I’m solely looking at uptown as a narrative.”

That narrative, he maintains, is what’s important to the vitality of the neighborhood. “Part of the work we’re doing here is local investment in the community,” he explains. “We’re introducing local artists in a contemporary way that feels fun and exciting.” To wit, the Rooster displays the art of a number of artists with a Harlem connection — but the restaurant also invites patrons to partake in the conversation, hosting salons that bring together those interested in art with the artists themselves.

Tonight, for example, the Rooster will feature Derrick Adams, an artist who uses a variety of medias and specializes in urban scenes and the African-American experience, downstairs at Ginny’s. Samuelsson and his cooking team will put together a meal inspired by the work of the artist, and diners are invited to have a conversation with Adams about his canon, six works from which are currently on display at the restaurants.

Samuelsson hopes the meal removes some of the barriers that someone interested in art might find in a gallery. “It’s not a traditional space, so it opens up the conversation — you can ask straightforward questions,” he explains. “People have to have dinner anyway — how often to do you do that while you meet an artist who can share their vision and share that passion with other people?”

Samuelsson is also clear that the Rooster and Ginny’s are not intended to be galleries — the work is not for sale; rather, this is a way to introduce artists to the wider community. He does hope, though, that potential buyers seek out these artists in their own spaces.

While tonight’s salon is sold out, it’s one of a series: The Rooster has also featured artists like Gary Simmons, Brandon Cox, Sanford Biggers, and Lorna Simpson. Check the restaurant’s events page for upcoming conversations.

By Laura Shunk Wed., Jan. 15 2014 at 2:00 PM

Harlem’s College Station Post Office on the Chopping Block Again

HARLEM — A plan to relocate the College Station post office on 140th Street in Central Harlem will leave elderly and poor residents without a place to access mail and financial services such as money orders, say opponents.

The College Station Post Office at 217 W. 140th Street between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard has more than 12,000 square feet of excess space, said Connie Chirichello, a spokeswoman for the United States Postal Service.

The station only provides retail services after mail carriers and sorters were moved from the station in the last few years. A new post office retail location will be located within the same 10030 zip code and provide the same services in a space that will be approximately 1,400 square feet. The space has not yet been identified.

Patrons of the College Station Post office say the lines are always long. "If it moves to a smaller space it will g...

Patrons of the College Station Post office say the lines are always long. “If it moves to a smaller space it will g…

“For elderly and poor people who depend on the post office the most, moving it out of the area will be a great hardship,” said Chuck Zlatkin, legal and political director for the New York Metro Area Postal Union which opposes the shift.

But Chirichello said the move is necessary because the Postal Service has seen a deep decline in the demand for its services. Annual mail volume has dropped by 43 billion pieces in the last five years. The agency, which doesn’t receive any tax dollars, is also facing a massive deficit because of the billions it must pay into a health fund for retired workers each year.

As a result, the Postal Service has embarked on a nationwide campaign to sell off properties and downsize its locations, including the landmarked Bronx General Post Office on the Grand Concourse. A recent plan to sell the Old Chelsea Station at 217 W. 18th St. was scrapped after community opposition.

Postal Service officials said no decision about the sale of the College Station location will be made until after hearings on the plan.

“The postal service is facing dire financial challenges,” Chirichello said. “We must take the necessary steps to close a $20 billion dollar gap by 2015 in order to regain financial sustainability. To do that, we must tighten our belts not one notch but several.”

Zlatkin said College Station often has lines out the door by 9 a.m. showing the demand for the services there.

“If it is moved to a smaller space there will be less service and it will be even more crowded,” he said.

On a recent afternoon there were 20 people waiting on line and only two clerks serving customers at the College Station site.

“It’s like this all the time,” said Jimmie Pate, 58, a librarian, as he stood near the back of the line.

“If it moves to a smaller space it will get even more crowded,” said Mario Cruz, 43, a pharmacy tech who was just ahead of Pate. “Soon you are going to have to make an appointment just to go to the post office.”

A meeting was scheduled before Community Board 10’s economic development committee for Thursday night where the Postal Service was to present its relocation proposal, but it was canceled once the New York Metro Area Postal Union notified the board about the purpose of the meeting.

“They were trying to slip one by the community, but now the community understands this post office is under attack,” said Zlatkin, who said the Postal Service should hold a full fledged town hall meeting about the proposed relocation as they have done in other neighborhoods.

Chirichello said the Postal Service is working on finding a new date to make their proposal and considers local community boards acceptable locations.

College Station was built in 1937 and gets its name from a former station located near City College. The brick building has limestone trim, a terrazzo floor, marble wainscoting, and wood trim. There was talk of closing the site in 2009 when it appeared on a list of 700 Postal Service sites to be closed or consolidated, but was spared.

Robert Johnson, 61, a coin collector and seller, uses a walker and travels frequently to College Station to handle business. He said he acquired another box at a nearby post office when College Station was in jeopardy of being closed in 2009  and understands the Postal Service’s need to downsize.

“These building are assets and the Postal Service doesn’t employ enough people to justify continued ownership,” said Johnson. “They have other post offices in the area. This is just the cost of doing business.”

Seeing stars! Actor and former City Council candidate hopes to make ‘El Barrio Walk of Fame’ in East Harlem

Businessman, actor, and former City Council Candidate Edwin Marcial wants to give back to the East Harlem community by creating a local version of the Walk of Fame. ‘I see so many artists in Harlem that deserve to be there,’ he tells The News.

Edwin Marcial wants to create an El Barrio Walk of Fame to honor local legends and stars on 106th St. between 3rd and Lexington Avenues.

Edwin Marcial wants to create an El Barrio Walk of Fame to honor local legends and stars on 106th St. between 3rd and Lexington Avenues.

Why should Hollywood have more fun than East Harlem?

A businessman, actor and former City Council candidate wants to create an “El Barrio Walk of Fame” on E. 106th St. between Third and Lexington Aves. to honor East Harlem stars and legends.

“I want to give it to the people who do something for El Barrio,” said Edwin

Businessman, actor, and former City Council Candidate Edwin Marcial wants to give back to the East Harlem community. ‘I see so many artists in Harlem that deserve to be there,’ he tells The News.

Marcial. “I see so many artists in Harlem that deserve to be there.”

He dreams of a block dotted with marble plaques that would bear the likenesses of luminaries from the theater, music, dance, art, film and government, along with a brief bio and the name of the sponsor.

Local officials say they can see what Marcial means.

“A Walk of Fame in El Barrio would be another way to celebrate the many cultural icons and community leaders that have hailed from our neighborhood,” City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem) said in a statement. “I look forward to working with members of the community to make this a reality.”

“We don’t always know our neighborhood history or neighborhood heroes, and this would be a great place to highlight some of that,” Brewer said.

The project — which would cost an estimated $500,000 per side of the block — is being spearheaded by Teatro Moderno Puertorriqueno Inc., an East Harlem arts and culture organization that Marcial heads.

The project — which would cost an estimated $500,000 per side of the block — is being spearheaded by Teatro Moderno Puertorriqueno Inc., an East Harlem arts and culture organization that Marcial heads.

The project — which would cost an estimated $500,000 per side of the block — is being spearheaded by Teatro Moderno Puertorriqueno Inc., an East Harlem arts and culture organization that Marcial heads.

A committee would select nominees and choose one man and one woman each year.

Marcial plans to reach out to divorced couple Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony to be the keynote figures of the annual enshrinement, which he describes as a red-carpet event accompanied by street vendors.

“It’s a way to empower the artists in East Harlem and the community,” said Marcial, who expects a portion of the project to be completed by 2015, if all goes well.

But the ambitious community man has a long road ahead.

Marcial, 74, who launched three failed bids for the East Harlem City Council seat, still needs the approval of Community Board 11, of which he is a member. Members have asked that he provide more information after the holidays.

He also needs the green light from City Council and the city Department of Transportation.

Marcial said he would request money from the city, but he intends to raise much of the dough on his own.

It’s unclear, he says, how much it will cost to maintain the Walk of Fame, but he believes the attraction will attract tourists and their wallets to the neighborhood.

Already , Marcial says, a local politician could be one of the first on the far-from-approved Walk of Fame, but he remained coy, saying: “It’s going to be a surprise.”

jransom@nydailynews.com

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/hopes-el-barrio-walk-fame-harlem-article-1.1538580#ixzz2mkqUSScI

Nonprofit founded by alum expands local STEM programs

THE GREAT PUMPKIN   |  Students Justo Rodriguez, Thomas Anderson, and Louis Enamorado install wiring into a jack-o’-lantern during ELiTE’s Halloween Hardware Hackathon earlier this year.

THE GREAT PUMPKIN | Students Justo Rodriguez, Thomas Anderson, and Louis Enamorado install wiring into a jack-o’-lantern during ELiTE’s Halloween Hardware Hackathon earlier this year.

Although Columbia alumnus Chelsey Roebuck founded the local nonprofit Emerging Leaders in Technology and Engineering just four years ago, the organization has been recognized for its work with a grant to expand and improve its programs in the West Harlem community.

The $33,440 grant from the West Harlem Development Corporation enabled ELiTE to scale up science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programming to serve 250 students from four local schools.

Roebuck, SEAS ’10 and ELiTE president, said the grant will support the group’s efforts to deepen its impact in Harlem by running a variety of after-school STEM programs.

Created as an undergraduate student project in 2009, ELiTE runs a hands-on science and engineering summer camp in rural Ghana in partnership with Engineers Without Borders.

Over the past five years, the summer camp has grown from the classrooms of a rural village in Ghana to a primary school in Tanzania and university campuses in Ghana, Jamaica, and Mexico, offering workshops and trainings in everything from software engineering and robotics to ecology and astronomy.

Now, Roebuck co-teaches computer science and mechatronics classes as part of the regular school schedule for sixth-grade and 11th-grade students.

Earlier this year, ELiTE held a Halloween Hardware Hack­a­thon event at the Frederick Douglass Academy, where 23 advanced mechatronics students were given basic electronic circuit components and pumpkins and were instructed to hack their own jack-o’-lanterns.

Columbia mechanical engineering professor Robert Stark was one of the judges at the event. He has volunteered his time working with the high school’s Robotics team and is now offering shadowing opportunities to students interested in the Columbia engineering labs.

“That’s a big part of ELiTE—not just teaching, but saying, ‘Here’s someone that can give you opportunities, if you really are interested, to do something with it,’” Roebuck said.

The event served as a culminating project for the first unit in the mechatronics class. The requirements were fairly broad, which allowed students to pursue their creativity by adding lights and sound to their pumpkins.

“That’s the spirit behind innovation, anyway. Use your environment, use what’s around you,” Stark said.

Roebuck said ELiTE plans on making a big push for recruitment on Columbia’s campus in December so that the organization can get more volunteer instructors to help students during these workshops.

“We’ve had different undergrads and grad students volunteering with us in schools, and I’d love to be able to get more,” he said.

Columbia’s National Society of Black Engineers recently visited FDA to speak to multiple classrooms and distribute college-oriented information as part of its annual A Walk for Education event.

NSBE Technical Outreach Community Help Chair Tolu Akinade, SEAS ’15, said the chapter was able to visit seven classrooms during its visit, including Roebuck’s mechatronics class.

“We loved speaking to the students and are definitely looking to go back to the school,” Akinade said. FDA Principal Joseph Gates and Vice Principal Pasquale Cusanelli were both present at the Hack­a­thon event.

“The best way to learn is what we’re doing in these classes,” Cusanelli said. “What Chelsey’s foundation is providing, as well as Columbia University and the increased support from Columbia, is helping these students.”

“For me, a lot of the opportunities that come as a result of being recognized for these awards are almost just as valuable as, if not more valuable than, the money,” Roebuck said.

“With awards and recognition, it’s never really about the money,” he said. “More than anything, getting the support networks and the communities that really help the students grow is what I’m most interested in.”

This story is part of a series of profiles of organizations that receive grants from the West Harlem Development Corporation.

news@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ColumbiaSpec

U.S. Census Bureau to Hire in the Boroughs (NYC):

This fall the U.S. Census Bureau will hire over 500 temporary Field Representatives to conduct the New York City Housing & Vacancy Survey (NYC-HVS). This survey is conducted every three years to comply with the City’s rent regulation laws. The Census Bureau has conducted the survey for the City since 1965. Applicants who wish to take the Census test for the NYC-HVS must reside within Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan or the Bronx. The pay rate for Field Representatives in these areas is $16.92 per hour. Employment will last about four to six months. To learn more about job requirements and qualifications call us toll free at 1-800-991-2520 (Select option 2 for recruiting) or send an e-mail with your complete address and phone number to: new.york.recruit@census.gov.

East Harlem Merchants to Pay Homeless to Tackle 125th St. Trash Problem

New East Harlem Merchants Association Trash Plan

New East Harlem Merchants Association Trash Plan

HARLEM — For more than a decade, neighbors have complained about the hundreds of homeless people who gather at a bus stop at Lexington Avenue and 125th Street to commute to shelters on Ward’s Island, blaming them for contributing to the garbage overflowing from the trash cans.

Now a Harlem business improvement district is hoping to employ some of the 700 to 900 homeless people who ride the M35 bus to help clean up the mess, recruiting local property owners to contribute to a fund to pay them to keep the area clean.

Kwanza Smith, executive director of the New East Harlem Merchants Association, has reached out to the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless to develop a program to hire homeless men to clean the area. When she brought the executive director of ACE New York to the corner he said it was one of the filthiest he had ever seen, Smith said.

“We are sensitive to the fact that these men are homeless. We want a plan for them,” Smith said.

The goal is to raise $75,000 to employ eight people to clean the area between Fifth and Second avenues, between 124th and 126th streets, five days a week.

So far, the association has raised almost $16,000 with an online fundraiser and by reaching out to local businesses, asking them to donate $3,000 a piece.

Property owners such as Artimus, 125th Street Gateway Ventures —  for whom Smith works — Wild Olive Market, Blumenfeld Development Group and the Northern Manhattan Nursing Home have contributed to the fund.

Despite tremendous development in the area, including a Pathmark and co-ops, cleanliness has not kept pace with the improvements. A recent cleanup effort by 60 volunteers collected 50 bags of garbage filled with food containers, paper and cigarette butts.

“This has been going on for years. People who walk up this street feel like the neighborhood is one big trash can,” Smith as she stood next to one of the overflowing trash cans. “We’ve had all this development over the past 10 years so this area shouldn’t look like this.”

Kwanza Smith, executive director of the New East Harlem Merchants Association, knows that by the time sanitation trucks ...

Kwanza Smith, executive director of the New East Harlem Merchants Association, knows that by the time sanitation trucks …

At 3:30 p.m. on a recent afternoon the four trash cans at the corners of Lexington Avenue and 125th Street were all filled to the brim. Smith warned that by the time sanitation trucks arrived the next day, the trash would be blowing around the streets.

“Today isn’t even that bad,” Smith said.

The merchants association is also trying to get more frequent trash pick-ups and larger trash cans.

The neighboring BID, the 125th Street Business Improvement District, has street cleaners, but its boundary ends at Fifth Avenue. The group is in the planning phases of  a river-to-river expansion, said President and CEO Barbara Askins.

Askins said having a cleaning crew has made a big difference further west on 125th Street.

“This is a step in the right direction because businesses want to see an organized effort to address the problem,” Askins said. “People are not willing to invest in an area that is dirty.”

When a pizzeria at the intersection of Lexington Avenue and 125th Street closed recently, Smith said a conversation with the owner revealed that the trash and general environment of the area contributed to their departure.

“It’s hard to maintain a business on this end of 125th Street,” she said.

By Jeff Mays on September 23, 2013 6:48am | Updated on September 23, 2013 6:48am

As Tourists Come and Go, Harlem Churches Lose a 10% Lifeblood

Tourists fill the balcony of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ while pews for members go empty.

Tourists fill the balcony of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ while pews for members go empty.

The tourists started lining up two hours before morning worship service on West 116th Street in Harlem. Most were dressed in everyday clothes, contrasting with the dark suits and prim dresses of the largely African-American congregation in the historic sanctuary of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ.

The Rev. Roger Harris, an associate pastor, made his way from the back of the line in his pinstripe suit. “Good to see you, glad you came,” he said, offering grins and handshakes on a recent Sunday. The tourists were herded to the balcony until, as in several churches in Harlem, they packed the seats there. Down below, where the congregation has dwindled over the years, there were plenty of empty seats.

The tourists often put offerings in the collection basket. But then they are gone. And so despite the draw, churches like Canaan are struggling. And at the heart of the struggle is a contradiction: As Harlem’s fortunes rise, tithing — the traditional source of the churches’ money — is fading away.

Harlem’s historical base of African-Americans has been dwindling. Those who remain have regularly tithed, setting apart 10 percent of their incomes for their church, in times good and bad. But now that has changed, too.

“Your tithers are your people who really keep your church going as a whole,” said the Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis, the senior pastor at Mount Olivet Baptist Church and the chairman of Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement.

“With the drop in population,” he said, “you have less people to tithe.”

The Rev. Jesse T. Williams Jr., senior pastor at Convent Avenue Baptist Church, said, “Giving is a form of worship, and an expression of thanking God for what God has given us.” At his church, he said, tithes in recent years were down about 12 percent.

Canaan, now with 1,000 members, has lost 500 since 2000, which increased the amount of room available for tourists. Without the tourists, Mr. Harris said, the senior pastor would be “preaching to an empty balcony.”

And tithes are down 20 percent, though other offerings at Canaan have been stable. It is not clear how much of that money comes from tourists.

Some churches have experienced drops in tithing of as much as 50 percent, said Deborah C. Wright, the chief executive of Carver Federal Savings Bank, leading them to seek loans from her bank.

“Clearly this is a transitional period,” said Canaan’s senior pastor, the Rev. Thomas D. Johnson Sr., who celebrated his seventh year at the church last month. “I believe that Canaan and all of our strong churches in Harlem are determined not to become extinct. This institution must survive, not only for the congregation, but because of who we represent.”

The story of Canaan, and its current struggle, is shared by many of Harlem’s churches. It was founded in 1932 in the spirit of what elders call a country church. Many early congregants were migrants from the South, sharecroppers under Jim Crow, steeped in a worship tradition. As more families came, the church grew.

The previous pastor, the Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, led the church for almost 40 years, until he retired in 2004; he was an architect of the civil rights movement and an aide to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“He was a fighter,” said Mr. Harris, who has a goal of increasing church membership by at least 50 within the next year.

In 1970, Mr. Walker once stood on the trunk of a car near the church and, through a bullhorn, preached a sermon about drug-dealing in the neighborhood. “We’ve been living dangerously for a long time,” he told his curbside congregation of 300, and whoever else was within earshot, “and we’re not afraid to name names.”

The black church, he often said, was the primary resource for the black community. “It is where black people have the ultimate decision-making power,” he said in a 1979 newspaper interview. “Black folks will pay church dues before they pay their rent.”

Under Mr. Walker, whose black-and-white portrait hangs in Canaan’s lobby, membership swelled to the point where ushers had to put chairs in the halls. The Canaan that Mr. Johnson inherited, however, looks remarkably different. So does the neighborhood. Where African-Americans once made up the bulk of Central Harlem’s population, they are now less than half. Economically, million-dollar homes and trendy restaurants glimmer amid stubborn pockets of blight.

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First NY civil rights museum to be built in Harlem

NEW YORK — Plans are underway for New York State’s first civil rights museum to be built in Harlem.

The plans were announced Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The officials said the museum will be built on a stretch of 125th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Lenox Avenue/Malcolm X Boulevard. Officials say the Museum of the Urban Civil Rights Experience will use Harlem as a lens through which to view the wider civil rights experience in cities across America.

The museum will be housed on a 42,000-square-foot stretch of property that will also contain a new national headquarters for the National Urban League.

Mixed-income housing and multi-level retail space will also be provided for after groundbreaking occurs in 2015.
—Copyright 2013 Associated Press

Small Businesses Pay Price for Harlem’s Success

For more than a century, Harlem has been one of New York’s most densely populated districts. And while it has always been a magnet for African Americans, it has also been one of the city’s poorest and most crime-ridden areas. Today, Harlem is experiencing an economic surge largely due to an influx of outsiders attracted to its plentiful housing and a growing black middle class. But as VOA’s Adam Phillips reports, the trend comes with a price. Small Businesses Pay Price for Harlem’s Success