When Sugar Hill Was Sweet
Looking Back, Moving Forward
OUR HISTORY CONTINUES IN HARLEM
Supporters and Co-Sponsors
2 | 2017
Taking Care of the Ancestors Because the Ancestors Took Care of Us
While We Are Still Here
The goal of our program, Reading Across Harlem, A Community Read, is
to encourage exploration of Harlem’s past, present, and possibilities for its future.
The film documentary, In the Face of What We Remember: Oral Histories of 409
and 555 Edgecombe Avenue, presents stories from the residents of 409 and 555—
those hidden-in-plain-sight treasures that represent the pinnacle of African-American
activism, artistry, and the ongoing struggle for justice.
In the case of Harlem, in general, the need for the people of a community
to look back has taken on new meaning: The population is changing, the landscape
is changing, and so is the “mindscape.” And it’s happening all over the country,
too. There are so many other places that were, previously, known as African-American
communities: From North Philly to the Treme in New Orleans to East Austin,
Texas to Oakland, California.
Some of us were born and raised in these, or similar, Black places across
the nation, by our blood or by our extended families that, for the most part, did
the best they could with what they had. And none of it was easy, because, to paraphrase
two Harlem literary folk, James Weldon Johnson and Langston Hughes,
trodding that “stony road” was no “crystal stair.” (Folks battling and fearing racist
terror or the threat of it, is what created places like Harlem, in the first place. In
contemporary parlance, these sites were “sanctuary cities” for Black people and
other people of color.) Some of the people who raised us are now with the ancestors
or ancestors themselves. They were not, necessarily, activists or revolutionaries,
but their ability to pass through the battlefield of this nation renders these
forebears to the status of “sheroes” and heroes.
It is said that immediately after one transitions, one becomes a spirit in the
realm of this life and remains so until there are no longer any people on the planet,
who know one’s name. It’s then that one becomes an ancestor. So, in intoning the
names of people we should never forget, they stay with us and we can learn from
what they did, what they stood for. Some of them sacrificed life, livelihood, and
sanity for us, also known as “The Future,” so it is up to us to take care of their
legacies—especially those activists and revolutionaries that have been under sung
or whose contributions have been distorted. In so doing, we will be inspired to
continue the move forward to claim and reclaim our time. And so it is.
Cover: Top (l-r), Terri Lyne Carrington (photo credit: Tracy Love); Melba Joyce. Bottom (l-r) Willie Perdomo, Herb Boyd
2017 | 3
Echoes of the Eras II
Terri Lyne Carrington Quartet, with Marc Cary and Others
The Sugar Hill Quartet, with Patience Higgins, Marcus Persiani, David Gibson
Reading Across Harlem Kick Off, featuring Book Signing and Reading by Author
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH
Sugar Hill Luminaries Lawn
155 th Street and Edgecombe Avenue, Harlem, NY
BRING YOUR BLANKETS. SPECIAL SEATING WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE DISABLED.
The Terri Lyne Carrington Quartet plays reimagined takes on Duke Ellington’s
“Money Jungle.” Through her unique vocal stylings, Melba Joyce presents the classic
sound of jazz. The Sugar Hill Quartet continues the swinging Harlem tradition.
Reading Across Harlem, A Community Read is inspired by One Book/One City,
a project of the American Library Association. Kick Off and Book Signing of The
Harlem Reader and Black Detroit with Author Herb Boyd
Co-sponsor: Jazz Foundation of America
Terri Lyne Carrington
4 | 2017
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH
Sugar Hill Luminaries Lawn, 155 th Street and Edgecombe Avenue, Harlem, NY
The Harlem Reader: A Celebration of New York’s Most Famous
Neighborhood From the Renaissance to the 21 st Century is Reading
Across Harlem’s “primer.”
Six events accompany this community read, allowing the participants
to gain an understanding of why Harlem became the “Black
Cultural Capital of the World.”
Earlier Harlem from Alexander Hamilton to
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7TH
Sister’s Uptown Bookstore, 1942 Amsterdam Avenue, Harlem, NY
A discussion covering the first nine chapters of The Harlem Reader.
Radicals, Rhythm, Religion, and West Indians
Herb Boyd, Jeffrey B. Perry, and Others TBD
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4TH
Countee Cullen Library, 104 West 136th Street, Harlem, NY
A wide-ranging talk, focusing on pages 34 to 79 that demonstrates the extraordinary
growth of Harlem as a site of international influence.
Heavyweights and Heavy Hitters: The Sports Elite
Playthell Benjamin, Samori Benjamin
The Dwyer Cultural Center
258 St. Nicholas Avenue, Harlem, NY
Suggested donation: $20.00
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9TH
Inspired by Arthur Ashe’s essay, “The Harlem Rens,” this presentation
will laud the famed athletes of Harlem’s yesteryear,
including Joe Louis (shown left).
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Theater-In-Black In Harlem and a Performance
“Resonating Resistance: Voices of 409 and 555
Voza Rivers and Others TBD
The Schomburg Center for Research In Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard,
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26TH
The history of theater in Harlem has been long and illustrious. This conversation
will touch upon the legacies of theater companies that include W.E.B.
Du Bois and Regina Anderson’s (shown left) KRIGWA; Langston
Hughes and Louise Thompson’s Suitcase Theater; and the famed American
Negro Theater on the development of successive companies that
include those developed by Amiri Baraka, Gertrude Jennette, Barbara
Ann Teer, Voza Rivers, and Jamal Joseph.
“Resonating Resistance: Voices of 409 and 555 Edgecombe Avenue,”
is directed by Daniel Carlton, and features some of Harlem’s greatest actors, who
will bring to life excerpted works by sa few prolific writers and activists, including
W.E.B. Du Bois, Louise Thompson-Patterson, and Marvel Cook.
Garnette Cadogan, Rosemari Mealy, and TDB
These discussions will be held on three consecutive Sundays in March, from 7 to
8pm. Just sign into Facebook and go to:
Reading Across Harlem@whilewearestillhere
Led by a discussion leader on Facebook at Reading
Across Harlem’s page, participants will share
their impressions of the following excerpts, in a
public dialogue. Page numbers and discussion
March 11, Garnette Cadogan, “Upon Arriving in
Harlem,” Gordon Parks (page 108)
March 18, TBD, “Hostess of Harlem,” Claude
March 25, Rosemari Mealy, “Minister Malcolm
X,” Malcolm X (page 219)
6 | 2017
MONDAY, MARCH 29
The Premiere of In the Face of What We Remember:
Oral Histories of 409 and 555 Edgecombe Avenue
Through captivating oral histories, a few Harlem elders share their memories,
opinions, and analyses about two landmarked dwellings.
Suggested Donations: $20.00, $50.00, $100.00
(All proceeds support While We Are Still Here’s programming.)
Co-produced by Jamal Joseph, Mike Tyner, and While We Are Still Here, with a
script by Herb Boyd and Karen D. Taylor, this film is the definitive documentary
of 409 and 555 Edgecombe Avenue, two socioeconomically mixed buildings that
are important to the cultural and political histories of not just Harlem, but to the
Four-o-nine Edgecombe Avenue was home to the entire early Black leadership
of the NAACP—James Weldon Johnson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Walter White, and
Roy Wilkins.Five-fifty-five Edgecombe Avenue, five blocks to the north, sits on
the corner of 160th Street and Edgecombe, which was recently co-named Paul
Robeson Boulevard/Count Basie Place to honor just two of the building’s many
African-American achievers in sociology, psychology, medicine, music, sports, and
theater lived there, among them Canada Lee, Drs. Mamie and Kenneth Clark, and
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East Side, West Side: El Barrio and the Hill
A Special Surprise Guest
Leroy Baylor, Moderator
SATURDAY, APRIL 7TH
Langston Hughes House
20 East 127th Street, Harlem, NY
This conversation was inspired
by Sonia and Willie’s
pieces in The Harlem Reader.
Willie and a Special Surprise
Guest converse about growing
up in different parts of
Harlem, during different eras,
and how Harlem influenced
their writing and worldview.
Leroy Baylor was also born
and raised in Harlem, so this
discussion will yield new, forgotten,
After the Flypaper:
Life in Harlem in
Images and Words
APRIL 3-MAY 7
April 7, 2-4, directly following
“East Side, West Side:
El Barrio and the Hill” (see
Inspired by the classic photo
essay, The Sweet Flypaper of Life: Harlem In Black and
White, by Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes, this
exhibit extends the visual-literary exchange that the two
“At Last (A Quilt of Etta James)”
men began in the 1950s. The “Harlem-centric” works by poets that include Calvin
Forbes and Patricia Spears Jones, and visual artists, such as Dawoud Bey and Ife
Felix will be shown alongside other renowned individuals’ works.
8 | 2017
Tribute to Geri Allen
For Geri Allen
Patricia Spears Jones
She’s sitting in the half-moon’s cup
Earthly roads have led to this new geography
Planets and stars—dust returns.
Her hands besotted with this cosmic baby grand
Playing star light and a vast blackness
Shifting with her tender tempos
Pacing the eternal— oh darkling’s descant
Blackbirds and fireflies trace her
In this evening’s skies.
—June 29, 2017
Leroy Baylor is a radio talk-show host, whose on-air moniker is “The Communicator.”
His writing and talk-show focus can be described as advancing information of
importance to Black people. He has followed the Nation of Islam since the 1950s.
Baylor’s experience includes marketing, ad sales, product sales, public speaking,
and sales training. He was born, raised, and resides in Harlem.
Playthell George Benjamin, noted blogger and journalist, is the producer of
“Commentaries On the Times,” which he writes and delivers on WBAI. Playthell
is an award-winning journalist, who has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in
two different categories. His byline has also appeared in the Guardian Observer of
London, the Sunday Times of London, High Times, the Village Voice, and others.
He has been a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
2017 | 9
Samori Benjamin has been the sports editor at WBAI-FM, in New York. He is an
on-air reporter and commentator, as well as the editor of the online website, wbaisports.com.
Samori studied Broadcast Journalism at SUNY, from which he holds a
bachelor of science degree. He is completing a book, Where Did Our Love Go:
The Disappearing Afro-American Athlete in Major League Baseball.
Herb Boyd is a professor, journalist, and author, who has written or edited twenty-three
books, including, his newest release Black Detroit: A People’s History
of Self Determination; Three Centuries of African American History as Told by
Those Whole Lived It (oral histories); Civil Rights: Yesterday and Today; Baldwin’s
Harlem, a biography of James Baldwin (finalist for NAACP Image Award); Brotherman—The
Odyssey of Black Men in America, An Anthology (with Robert Allen,
received American Book Award); and The Harlem Reader.
Garnette Cadogan is a Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Scholar (2017-18) at the
Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. He is also a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in
Culture at the University of Virginia, and a visiting scholar at the Institute for
Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the editor-at-large of Nonstop
Metropolis: A New York City Atlas (co-edited by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-
Schapiro), and is at work on a book on walking.
Daniel Carlton is an actor, writer, teacher, storyteller, and director who has appeared
on New York, national, and international stages. He is a veteran of numerous
Off- and Off-Off Broadway productions. His multi-character, solo show, Pig
Foot Mary Says Goodbye To The Harlem Renaissance, produced by the Metropolitan
Playhouse, has been seen both locally and nationally.
Terri Lyne Carrington is a GRAMMY-winning drummer, composer, and bandleader,
who has toured with luminaries such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Al
Jarreau, Stan Getz, David Sanborn, Joe Sample, Cassandra Wilson, Clark Terry,
Dianne Reeves, and others. She is a professor at her alma mater, Berklee College of
Music, from which she also received an honorary doctorate.
Marc Cary is a jazz pianist, keyboardist, producer, and composer. He has worked
with Betty Carter, Roy Hargrove, Dizzy Gillespie, Erykah Badu, Shirley Horn,
Stefon Harris, Q-Tip, Abbey Lincoln, Arthur Taylor, Mickey Bass, and all of the
major figures from jazz’s mid-century heyday. He has also worked with Q-Tip,
members of the Wu Tang Clan, and other prominent hip-hop musicians.
Ife Felix is a renowned quilt artist. She is the founding member of Harlem Girls
Quilting Circle. As a group they have exhibited at many venues in New York City
including the Caribbean Cultural Center. Her works have appeared in international
exhibits, such as “Conscience of the Human Spirit: The life of Nelson Mandela,”
in Johannesburg” and “Commemorating His Purple Reign: A Textural Tribute to
Prince,” at the Textile Center in Minneapolis. Ife lives in Harlem with her husband.
David F. Gibson toured extensively and recorded with the Count Basie Orchestra
under the direction of Frank Foster. David has also performed with a host of artists
and ensembles, including Joe Williams, Clark Terry, the Sun Ra Arkestra, and the
Duke Ellington Orchestra. He is also featured on recordings that include Diane
10 | 2017
Harry “Sweets” Edison’s Live at the Iridium and Odean Pope’s Saxophone Choir’s
Saxophone Shop. He earned a bachelor of music degree from Temple University.
Patience Higgins is the front man for the Sugar Hill Quartet. He has been a member
of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Other credits include performances at the
White House with Esperanza Spalding and others, as well as tours and recordings
with the Count Basie Orchestra, Lionel Hampton, Ray Charles, Muhal Richard
Abrams, Barry Harris, Stevie Wonder, Hamiet Bluiett’s Baritone Group, the Pointer
Sisters, Savion Glover, Bobby Watson & Tailor Made, David Murray, Jimmy Scott,
Paquito D’ Rivera, Rodney Kendrick, and Yoko Ono. He holds a bachelor of arts
degree from New York University.
Patricia Spears Jones was born and raised in Arkansas, and has lived in New York
City for more than four decades. She is the recipient of the Jackson Poetry Prize,
one the most prestigious awards for American poets, via Poets & Writers, Inc.
She is author of the poetry collections: Painkiller, Femme du Monde, and The
Weather That Kills. Her fourth collection, A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems,
features her Pushcart Prize winning poem, “Etta James at the Audubon Ballroom.”
Jamal Joseph has written and directed for Black Starz, HBO, Fox TV, New Line
Cinema, Warner Bros., and A&E. He produced, Chapter & Verse, starring Daniel
Beaty. He is Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University School of the
Arts. He serves as the artistic director of the New Heritage Theatre Group and is
executive director of New Heritage Films, a not-for-profit organization.
Rosemari Mealy has taught as an adjunct professor at several City University of
New York (CUNY) schools. Over the years she taught numerous courses including
“The Color Line,” “Labor History,” and “Women In International Liberation
Movements.” She is the author of Fidel and Malcolm X: Memories of a Meeting.
Rosemari holds a Ph.D. from Capella University and a Juris Doctorate from the
City University of New York School of Law.
Melba Joyce is a singer’s singer. Her career has spanned six decades of sharing billing
with Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Louis Jordan, Lionel Hampton, Tony
Bennett, Joe Williams, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and many others. She has
also recorded with the Dizzy Gillespie. Melba was twice nominated as best female
vocalist by Downbeat Reader’s Poll. She is also a professor of music at the Medgar
Evers College of the City University of New York.
Jeffrey B. Perry was educated at Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers, and Columbia. His
work focuses on the role of white supremacy as a retardant to progressive social
change. He is an archivist, bibliophile, and historian, who has preserved and
inventoried the “Hubert H. Harrison Papers” and helped to place them at the Rare
Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University. He is the author of Hubert
Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918, and other publications.
Marcus Persiani has performed with artists that include Jerry Gonzalez, the Impressions,
Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Cecil McBee, Tito Puente, Charlie Persip’s
Supersound, Vanessa Rubin, and the Apollo Theater Showtime Band. He’s toured
and recorded with Mario Bauza, Joseph Bowie’s Defunkt, Willie Colon, and
others throughout Europe, Japan, and the United States. His compositions and
2017 | 11
arrangements are featured on the recordings by Bauza’s legendary Afro-Cuban Jazz
Orchestra, one of whic was nominated for a GRAMMY. He received a bachelor of
music degree from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.
Voza Rivers, founding member of New Heritage Theatre is an accomplished
theatre, music, film, and events producer, and recognized as one of the country’s
leading theatre producers. New Heritage Theatre Group, established in 1964, is the
oldest Black, nonprofit theater company in New York, celebrating fifty-three years.
Voza is also founder/executive producer of IMPACT Repertory Theatre; 1st vice
president, Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce; executive producer and vice
chairman, Harlem Week and the Harlem Music Festival. He currently serves as the
chairman of the Harlem Arts Alliance.
The Sugar Hill Quartet, led by Patience Higgins, is the longest-running house band
in New York City, having performed for more than two decades at St. Nick’s Pub,
Minton’s, Lenox Lounge, and, now, at Smoke.
Michael Tyner produced
The Last Days of Hustling,
which was featured
in the Cannes Film Festival
(2015). Tyner has
produced, directed, and/
or edited over ten films
(2011), a six-part,
web-series featuring the
late Dr. Manning Marable,
discussing his Pulitzer
Malcolm X: A Life
of Reinvention. Tyner
is currently developing
projects, both fiction
and nonfiction, including
Lefty Changes and
the Revolution, a documentary
McCoy and Jarvis Tyner,
and their work as jazz
legend and political activist,
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