BET Studios has arrived in Harlem. To celebrate the occasion, they decided to throw a slammin’ concert and a block party. The new studios are located right in the Mecca of the Hip-Hop empire of the world, New York City. Many of the world’s most dynamic entertainers have originated from the streets of this exciting and flavorful city. (For those in the Harlem community, the new studios are in our neighborhod at 106 Street and Park Avenue).
In order to make a spectacular entrance, BET choose their debut to be at the world famous Apollo theater located on 125th Street. Considering the phenomenal stage setting, the large Harlem crowd and the all-star talent line up, the Harlem Block Party was definitely a night to remember. MusicÕs hottest Kings and Queens splashed on the scene with the energy and skill that blew the crowd away. This Royal line-up included artist such as Lil Kim, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, L.L Cool J, and many more.
BETÕs presence is greatly appreciated by the people in the Harlem comunnity, mainly because there is so much talent that exists here. Also, because this will definetly mean more jobs and opportunies that will allow more cultural growth that we can share with America.
On the night of the Block Party, the streets were filled and many people from all over the New York area came out to support BETin their efforts to spread more love and talent. It was a true family event.
The people of the community are not the only ones who have an opinion about BET’s presence in Harlem. Coming in our following reports we will have the reactions of the previously listed Royal line up. Stay tuned to see what Lil Kim, Fat Joe, Eryka Badu and others have to say about New YorkÕs future now that Black Entertainment Television is in the mix.
My name is Samantha Gonzalez. I was born June 25th, 1982. The reason I want to work with HarlemLive is because I want to get to know about Harlem and the past and present and to affect its future. Maybe my experience with HarlemLive will get me somewhere in the future. I hope I have a good experience working on this publication and meeting new people.
I like to write poems about me and how Ifeel about things. I like to have fun and to do and learn new things. I am a person who always is doing something to keep myself busy. I am a nice person to get to know.
My Querencia is at Randall’s Island by the water under an apple tree, by myself. It’s a place where I can think and write my thoughts and poems. I sit near the water by the walls of grass that are all around. I sit under a green apple tree. I look at the waves go by. It makes me think and wonder about things and the future.
I remember when I was mad at my friend because we had an argument. I had no one to talk to, so I put my notebook in my bookbag, got on my bike and left my house. Off I went to Randall’s Island to my little spot by the water under the apple tree. I just thought about things to do to make up with my friend. I took out my journal and wrote things I could do to make up with my friend. I wrote down to call her on the phone and talk it out. I really didn’t know what to do. I lay down under the apple tree and fell asleep. When I woke up I decided to just talk to her about it. Then, I rode my bike home.
I wish I could go to my special place everyday but I can’t, so what I do instead is listen to music in my room and write poems. That is my querencia.
by Angel Colon
A few years ago my bedroom was filled with stress and depression. A few years ago my room was almost filled with tears. A few years ago I was sitting down listening to music, hard-core rap music. I know it may sound corny, but that’s where my power is.
Hard core rap music may not be your querencia, but it sure is mine and I’m proud of it, too. Whenever I have problems or I feel down that’s where pride waits for me.
Those few years ago was when my mother was robbed and me, and my brother and my oldest little sister witnessed the horror. We were in the elevator returning home with our bikes after riding around the projects. It was about 8 at night. A man who seemed nice helped us put our bikes in the elevator. I wondered what he was doing because he pushed the buttons to both the third and fourth floor. Once the elevator stopped on the third floor, he asked for jewelry, while he held his hand behind his back. My mom gave him her wedding band and necklace name chain. Then he made sure the door was closed and the elevator went up. I didn’t cry but crying did cross my mind.
Once we saw my father, my mother told him what happen. I went to my room, closed the door and sat down and listened to music and thought about nothing in particular. Music, that is my querencia.
photos and story by Reuben D. Quansah
Harlem is going through a major commercial transition as outside big business companies enter and take control of this highly black populated community’s business market. In the process, the Harlem-ites chance to develop an economic pie that is for the people by the people, is alas curtailed. In such a delicate time, businesses that are akin the Hue-Man Bookstore have come to the rescue of the Harlemlites. By no means is this an ordinary bookstore. This landmark stands emblematic as the largest African American book store in the United States of America. Many African American evinced their gratitude merely by coming and showing their satisfaction with the newfound establishment.
Oh was it a sight to see on Friday, August 2nd as the Hue-Book store commenced its grand opening at five o’clock. At this time, there were few guests and the staff went through their extra rounds of keeping the atmosphere looking spiffy. A few reporters and guest took the time to skim through the multitude of books around the store. The staff members, who took part in the building of the store, were pleased to see the people there in the beginning. As Sales Associate, Marc Edwards put it, “Today is the day to get the message out.” Trinee, another Sales Associate, who considers herself a pro-black worker, stated that “from the 1st nail, to the first sale, [Clara Villarosa] has made things happen.” Clara Villarosa, the owner of the store returned from her retirement to run the store. Earlier in her life, she owned an African American bookstore in Denver that provided service to many, including actor, Ozzie Davis and actress Ruby Dee.
While, the people awaited the arrival of Mrs. Villarosa, they enjoyed the company of the plethora of black artists. Jay-Z, one of the early birds at the event, said that he was there to show his support to one of the fellow contributors to the stores development. For Harlem Live, he had a few words to say about the significance of the bookstore and its possible influence on the teenagers of today. He placed emphasis on the idea that it is “a question of knowledge” hat those who know about this resource can take advantage of this resource. When asked what role he will play in helping the develop of the bookstore, he said stated, “I’ll do what I do…I’ll give the information.” Romero Chamber who accompanied him mentioned that “[the bookstore] is long over do.” He said that he plans to bring his children there.
As the evening progressed, more reporters, celebrities, community members and politicians made their presence known by forming small hubs at just about all corners of the store. There, holding worthwhile discussions, signing autographs or making connections were so
me of the many things that went on. By this time Mrs. Clara Villarosa was meeting and greeting the guest before a large presentation of which she was going to take part in with a special guest. Meanwhile sponsors such as Dawn Nile of the Empowerment Zone remained low profile and enjoyed the atmosphere. She pointed out the importance of this bookstore and its need to stay in existence. Many shared the same views as Dawn Nile, such as actor Ozzie Davis, who mad it clear that the Harlem community must attain an economic balance in order to abet it development. He said that “reading should be pleasure,” thus doing what we please we can develop ourselves economically.
As the presentation takes place the glowing Clara Villarosa tells her story of she gets involved bookstore’s completion. Satisfied with the turnout of people, she tells the audience how she is happy to see “the wall to wall people.”
story and photos by Damali Snowe
The Harlem Landmark Guest House, located at 437 W. 147th between St. Nicholas Avenue and Convent Avenue is a standing tribute the beauty of Harlem and its history. A collective, whose members are African-American long-time residents of Harlem, owns this business.
Harlem Landmark Guest House is essentially a place for people to stay overnight. They are provided with a continental breakfast in the morning. It is also home to many events, serving as a cultural center. The difference between this experience and that of a hotel is: hotels are more established and impersonal. A guesthouse, however has more of a “home feeling” to it.
One of the goals of the collective that owns the brownstone is to promote Harlem as “a wonderful place.” Many visitors and residents of New York have a negative image of Harlem, not knowing the rich culture that resides here. The people at The Harlem Landmark want to change this and upgrade Harlem’s image by giving visitors the full Harlem experience. The Harlem Landmark is a part of the Harlem Chamber of Commerce, and works with tour companies, as well as radio stations, to help fulfill its purpose.
The brownstone took a year to restore, preserving the history it holds from a century ago, making it a museum in a sense. The building is decorated in, “Harlem Style” which is some African culture mixed in with Harlem’s history and culture. There are many historical pictures of Harlem figures, particularly musicians, lining the staircase and decorating the rooms. African masks, pictures, and paintings liven up the hallways and rooms as well. These fine pieces of art bring the brownstone alive, and the brownstone has become a wonderful venue for artists to exhibit their work, making it a place for cultural expression.
The most creative aspect of the brownstone, however, seems to be its rooms. Each room is decorated with a theme dedicated to a particular Harlem jazz jazz legend. There is the Nat “King” Cole wedding suite, accompanied by a bathroom. There are also the Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald Egyptian room, and the Louis Armstrong rooms.
Along with the rooms themselves, located on the top three floors, there are a number of bathrooms, and a Jacuzzi suite. The reception Hall on the first floor holds a mural, which measures 11 feet high and 22 feet wide entitled “The Liberian.” It depicts the history of the Africans of Liberia, explaining why Liberia is the way it is today. Downstairs has a kitchen, and a lounge in the making. Its long-term goal is to own more property and have a restaurant and entertainment, that all bring alive the history of Harlem.
The issue of longtime Harlemites being pushed out of their homes was also raised. The Harlem Landmark feels longtime residents shouldn’t be pushed out, but change happens. One must look to be a part of that change, and think in a progressive manor.” They feel major companies get funding form the Empowerment Zone and get tax brakes from the government to move into Harlem. There for small Harlem businesses should get assistance as well. The Harlem Landmark guest House expressed: it is important that longtime Harlem residents and business owners are able to benefit from the economic changes in Harlem, along with the large companies that are moving in.
On December 20, 2001, the temperature is forty-four degrees outside but when you walk into the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located in the heart of Harlem, you could feel the warmth a mile away. The atmosphere was electric, with over fifty arts and cultural organizations gathered for the kick-off party for the Harlem Arts Alliance.
The mission of HAA is to preserve, promote and present the rich cultural legacy and contributions of the Harlem community to the world.
“The main point of this event is to rally our troops, so that the public can take us seriously when we say we are about to change Harlem. We are circling the wagons, uniting or troops or going to die trying,” said Garland Lee Thompson, founder and director of the Frank Silvera Writers workshop.
In a lobby of the Schomburg, violins are playing, people network, and food is everywhere. This reporter had the pleasure of speaking to Roberta Long, an eighty-year-old music teacher and long time member of the Harlem Arts Alliance. She felt that “more people should be aware of New York’s organizations. [The HAA] represents all the arts, music, drama, dance, poetry, and black history.” After an hour of mingling everyone is signaled to move to the auditorium.
Mr. Voza Rivers, chairman of the HAA, said “This alliance has been a longtime dream, come true.” Mr. Rivers introduced a handful of youth organizations who performed dance, poetry and music, lead by the Uptown Dance Academy, Longar Ebony Ensemble, Harlem Jazz and Music Festival, and others. The performances moved the audience to multiple applause.