Harlem Playwright Shaun Neblett to Honor Works of Malcolm X and Lorraine Hansberry at I, Too Arts Collective

Lorraine Hansberry and Malcolm X share a birthday on May 19 (photos via dnainfo.com)

by Dartunorro Clark via dnainfo.com

HARLEM — In an age of resistance and Black Lives Matter, a local writer is looking to the past to unpack present-day issues.In an ode to civil rights icon Malcolm X and playwright Lorraine Hansberry — both of whom share a May 19 birthday and a Harlem connection — writer Shaun Neblett is unveiling a play based on the pair’s works on Friday.

The play “Happy Birthday Malcolm and Lorraine!” will feature sets of vignettes performed by several up-and-coming playwrights who will discuss contemporary topics, such as gentrification. Since the two subjects share the same birthday, Neblett wanted to fold their ideas and words in with the work of current writers, whose “journeys have been paved by Malcolm and Lorraine’s spirit and relentless drive to sharpen the black psyche,” he said. “Beyond creating a great show, we are sending their spirits our gratitude and keeping their important teachings alive,” he added.

In doing research for the play, Neblett said he discovered a letter at Harlem’s Schomburg Center that Hansberry wrote to her local newspaper when she was living in Greenwich Village, saying that “people were coming into her community and trying to take over.” “It really speaks to the gentrification that people are dealing with today in Harlem,” said Neblett, who founded the Changing Perceptions Theater.  Another captivating draw for Neblett is the play’s location: the home of Langston Hughes, another historic Harlem figure.

The East 127th Street home was renovated and has been leased by a group of artists — called the I, Too Arts Collective — since last year to preserve Hughes’ legacy. “It’s just all a real sort of nucleus for this event and the meaning of it and the purpose,” Neblett explained. “They all fought in their own way to empower the black psyche.” Hansberry and Malcom X also have Harlem ties. He spent some of his most formidable years in the neighborhood, and she moved there in the 1950s, later writing “A Raisin in the Sun,” whose title was based on a poem by Hughes.

“They were both revolutionaries and they just went about the way they fought for liberation in different ways,” Neblett said, “but their ideas and thoughts were the same.”

“Happy Birthday Malcolm and Lorraine!” premieres Friday, May 19, at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or online. The show will take place at the I, Too Arts Collective at the Langston Hughes House, 20 East 127th St.

Source: Harlem Playwright to Honor Work of Malcolm X and Lorraine Hansberry – Central Harlem – DNAinfo New York

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Acquires James Baldwin Papers

Author and activist James Baldwin (photo via thegrio.com)

article via thegrio.com

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at The New York Public Library recently acquired James Baldwin’s personal archive. The archive includes 30 linear feet of letters and manuscripts, as well as drafts of essays, novels, and other works. It also includes galleys and screenplays with notes handwritten on them as well as photographs and other media forms documenting Baldwin’s life and creative output.

“We are more than excited to have James Baldwin return home to Harlem,” said Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center of the new acquisition. “Baldwin’s amazing collection adds to our ever-growing holdings of writers, political figures, artists, and cultural icons across the African diaspora. With the current resurgence of interest in Baldwin’s works and words, and renovation of our own spaces from the main gallery to the Schomburg Shop, the timing couldn’t be better for Baldwin to join us at the Schomburg Center. As a writer myself, I am eager for students, scholars and other writers—I count myself among all three—to have the opportunity to see his profound writing process up close.”

Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry, and Maya Angelou all have collections at the Schomburg Center and Baldwin was their colleague. His papers not only complement theirs, but offer researchers a fascinating look at the Civil Rights and the Black Power movements, through the works of these seminal figures,” said Steven G. Fullwood, Associate Curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.

Source: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture acquires James Baldwin papers | theGrio

Kevin Young Named Poetry Editor at The New Yorker Magazine

Kevin Young (Credit Melanie Dunea/CP)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to nytimes.com, Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has been named the new poetry editor of The New Yorker magazine.

According to wikipedia.org, Young graduated from Harvard College in 1992, held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University (1992–94), and received his Master of Fine Arts from Brown University. While in Boston and Providence, he was part of the African-American poetry group the Dark Room Collective. He is heavily influenced by the poets Langston Hughes, John Berryman, and Emily Dickinson and by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Young is an esteemed poet and scholar whose work has been published in The New Yorker dating back to 1999.  His most recent work, “Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015,” made the 2016 National Book Award long list.

Young, 46, will officially take over the post in November, after he takes part in a passing of the torch of sorts: a reading and interview with current The New Yorker poetry editor Paul Muldoon at the New Yorker Festival in the fall.

Schomburg Research Center in NY Designated a National Historic Landmark

screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-1-24-38-pm

article by Ameena Walker via ny.curbed.com

Late last year, St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue was named a National Historic Landmark, and in the months since, the Department of the Interior hasn’t been resting on its laurels. Yesterday, the agency announced 24 new National Historic Landmarks, including a few in the five boroughs. The biggest: New York City’s mecca for information on the African diaspora and culture, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. (h/t DNAInfo)

The center, located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, was named after Afro-Latino immigrant Arthur (Arturo) Alfonso Schomburg, and operates as part of the New York Public Library system. Here’s what the DOI had to say about it:

[It] represents the idea of the African Diaspora, a revolutionizing model for studying the history and culture of people of African descent that used a global, transnational perspective. The idea and the person who promoted it, Arthur (Arturo) Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938), an Afro-Latino immigrant and self-taught bibliophile, reflect the multicultural experience of America and the ideals that all Americans should have intellectual freedom and social equality.

It’s currently in the process of receiving a $22 million renovation helmed by Marble Fairbanks Architects, Westerman Construction Company, and the City Department of Design and Construction. The entire project is expected to wrap up in 2017 and will present changes that include a larger gift shop, updated Langston Hughes Auditorium, expanded Rare Book Collection vault, and many more changes.

To read full article, go to: http://ny.curbed.com/2017/1/12/14247950/schomburg-research-center-national-landmark-nyc?platform=hootsuite

The New Yorker’s Tribute to the Schomburg Center for Research In Black Culture Is Everything

Newyorker

article via clutchmagonline.com

The New Yorker recently unveiled its latest illustrated cover, and it’s gorgeous.

Featuring Kadir Nelson’s stunning “Harlem On My Mind” painting, the Feb. 16 issue pays homage to the Schomburg Center for Research In Black Culture.

Nelson said he wanted his painting to be “a stylistic montage” that honors “the great Harlem Renaissance painters: Aaron Douglas, William H. Johnson, Norman Lewis, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Archibald Motley, and Palmer Hayden.”

Also included in the beautiful illustration are Black cultural giants Zora Neale Hurston, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and the Nicholas Brothers.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to Receive $22M Renovation Including Outdoor LED Screen

 The ambitious renovation project includes installing a high-definition LED screen on the facade, new benches and landscape on Lenox Avenue, expansions to the gift shop and research spaces, and adding a new exhibition space for children.

Schomburg Center Renovation Project includes installing a high-definition LED screen on the facade, new benches and landscape on Lenox Avenue, expansions to the gift shop and research spaces, and adding a new exhibition space for children. (image via dnainfo.com)

HARLEM — The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is getting a $22 million facelift, officials announced Friday.

The ambitious renovation project includes installing a high-definition LED screen on the facade, new benches and landscape on Lenox Avenue, expansions to the gift shop and research spaces, and adding a new exhibition space for children.

“All of this makes for a really terrific start into the 21st Century and puts the Schomburg on its way its next 90 years,” said Director Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad.

The renovation comes at a time of growth at the research library, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary. Over the last three years their attendance has increased by 26 percent and program attendance by nearly 40 percent, according to NYPL President Tony Marx.

This is the most significant investment in the library named after Arturo Schomburg since its 1979 expansion, said the founder’s grandson Dean Schomburg.

RELATED: 

“I’m standing here thinking what my grandfather would have felt with what’s going on here today,” he said. “It would’ve been an enormous, enormous pleasure for him as it is for me to see what is happening.”

The research library’s reading room will get a makeover as will the video division. New storing and presentation equipment will make it easier for people to access historic recorded equipment, said Muhammad.  “Some of the Schomburg’s greatest treasures are locked in hiding in those spaces and will begin to see the light of day again,” he said.

Scaffolding is already up on the south side of the building. The project is expected to be completed sometime in 2017.

article by Gustavo Solis via dnainfo.com

HISTORY: Schomburg Center Digitizes Jim Crow Era “Green Books” Created to Help Black Travelers Avoid Racist Towns and Businesses

Green Book (photo via Schomburg Center Archive)

The Negro Travelers’ Green Book (photo via Schomburg Center Archive)

Before the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 — and decades before the Internet and smart phones existed — black travelers relied on the “Green Book” to find hotels, restaurants and other establishments willing to accept their business.

The travel guide was published between 1936 and 1966 to help black motorists avoid racial harassment, arrest and violence as they traveled through the U.S. during the Jim Crow era.

All but two of those editions — the inaugural edition in 1936 and the one from 1952 — have been digitized and posted online by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culturereported DNA Info.

“Carry The Green Book with you. You may need it,” reads the cover of the 1949 edition, followed by a quote from Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice.”

Victor Green, a U.S. Postal Service worker, started publishing the books from his New York City apartment after his wife decided they should scout all the black-friendly businesses on the way to visit her family in Virginia.

“The idea crystallized when, not only himself but several friends and acquaintances complained of the difficulties encountered; oftentimes painful embarrassments suffered which ruined a vacation or business trip,” wrote Novera C. Dashiell in the spring 1956 edition.

Green and other mail carriers shared their experiences in racially segregated America, and they helped black travelers avoid “sundown towns,” where they weren’t welcome after dark, and other racist areas or businesses.

“It’s not just which places are clean and which places serve good food — it’s places that you would be welcomed and you would be safe,” said Maira Liriano, associate chief librarian at the Schomburg Center.

The books were immediately popular, and they serve as a fascinating document of mid-century cultural history.

Continue reading