Show Some Harlem Hospitality

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. 

Rocky Kabir

Web Editor / Reporter / Photographer

Hi, my name is Rocky. My birthday is on november 2nd 1984. I joined Harlem Live years ago becuase i wanted to wanted to improve my technical skills with computer hardware and software and make new friends at the same time. Harlemlive helped me do just that. Right now, I am a junior in college studing computer information systems and industrial psychology. My interests are learning about computer technology, web design and network management.On my spare time time just hangout with my friends.

The Harlem Arts Alliance Kick-Off Party

by Elliot Price / Photos by Rocky Kabir

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.

Garland Thompson, right

“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.

Elliot Price

Web Editor/ Reporter

Hi, my name is Elliot Price (friends call me easter) I was born on May 14, 1985. Really my interest are playing Chess, drawing and just being a total a** on the computer. I’m really social, I think it’s because I feel that I’m not promised tomorrow so I live the day as it is. I guess that’s why I’m so humorous. The school I’m attending now is A. Philip Randolph it’s pretty cool as far as academically. But there’s many distractions such as girls who hound me 24/7. I’m not going to lie but I really like it. Also right now I’m working on a school project in “technical drawing” I have to draw a whole clock it’s challenging but fun at the same time because drawing comes naturally to me, I guess. My future plans are to go to a good college and hopefully get a great job in either medics or engineering. I guess that’s either my interest or wanting a lot of money talking. L.O.L 

another profile by Elliot

Hey everyone this is your favorite Harlemlive Web Editor Elliot Price. From posting stories, to teaching students PhotoShop, I do it all. And I give a big thanks of my knowledge to the one and only strength of my life Jesus Christ. I currently attend A. Philip Randolph High School for studies in engineering, Besides working 24/7, I enjoy just hanging out. One of my favorite hang out spot is 42st.Where something is just bound to happen. 
I first joined Harlemlive at the age of fourteen, I’m now sixteen and academically stronger than ever. Harlemlive has been a dream come true. So keep in touch and look for my name in up coming stories. ONE.

A Swim Team Grows in Harlem

by Jean Charles
photos by Shem Rajoon

In Harlem, a swim team grows from the hearts of ordinary people; the average Joes and Janes, like you and me. At the Hansborough Community center, dreams are forged on the Dolphin swim team – a group of young adults brought together by Ms. Dorise Black.

She has the aura of a wise woman, as if she thinks every word through before she speaks. Her walk looks as if she calculates every step, like the ground beneath her feet might crumble. She is not scared. She is proud. Ms. Black, a retired schoolteacher, is proud of her students at the Hansborough Community center. She started the swim team many years ago out of necessity and wanting to help people. She beams with pride because the team will be competing, this weekend, in a swim meet against other successful teams in the area, such as the various Boys’ Clubs of New York. Many years ago, people did not realize this team would actually develop from an idea into reality. 

It all started when Ms. Black asked Mr. Luther Gales, a retired police officer, to coach the team. He refused. With continuos urging he changed his mind. Mr.Gale’s refusal to coach the team was because he had never coached before. However, it was for the children and that changed his mind. He has coached the members, ranging from ages 7 to 16, into better swimmers.

The Dolphin swim team is an after-school program, which operates three out of five days per week. They operate out of the Hansborough Community Center on 135th street and 5th Avenue. Besides teaching students to swim, the team functions as a source of academic and moral support for these students.

There are academic requirements that have to be met in order for students to remain on the team. Each member has to keep a grade point average above C. To avoid dropping to lower grades there are tutors, who help the students in their studies. Conduct is also an important part of staying on the team.

Students are expected to behave in a way that ensures the safety of teammates, and themselves. On the Dolphin swim team, safety is a value the students learn and carry for the rest of their lives. There was one instance, though, where the coach reprimanded a member for misconduct. He or she had to complete one hundred word essay explaining his/her motives for misconduct.

The oldest athlete, 16-year-old Kirin, has been swimming with the team for about 2 years and she is also the swim team’s captain. She credits the swim team for keeping her in good health. But, the star on the team is 7 year old Kevin, who is by far one of the best swimmers on the team. Like many of his teammates, he’s been on the team since the beginning. In addition, he has grown to beat the coach, an athletic retired police officer, at the backstroke. But, still the team needs financial help.

According to the coach,” we only use the pool 3 out 5 days, for only two hours each day.” So they need extra time to practice. And they also need new clock and backstroke flags. This may sound like wining, but if a team helps children to be “dedicated”, “committed” or to “persevere”, they should be given as much positive support as possible.

YMCA’s Black Achievement Awards

by Kevin Benoit
w/ additional reporting from Shaunetta Gibson

Hundreds of people gathered in the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in Manhattan tonight to celebrate the Harlem YMCA’s Black Achievers Gala. The Harlem YMCA celebrated 35 years of achievement while honoring the brightest and top African-American executives.

This years event, themed “35 Years: Making A Difference Together” was an amazing night honoring over 50 adult achievers and over 20 adult achievers. CBS 2 News’ Shon Gables was the Mistress of Ceremonies and The Honorable Marc. H. Morial was the evenings keynote speaker. Morial is the former Mayor of New Orleans and the current President and CEO of the National Urban League.

The night began with a reception where all the guests socialized. That part of the night was followed by the introduction of the Harlem YMCA Board members. A dinner ensued, and lets just say the food was grand, this was the Sheraton Hotel. 

Isaiah Walker was honored with the Carrie Terrell Youth Achiever of the Year Award. Walker, 18 a student at Thurgood Marshall Academy is Captain of the Varsity Basketball team and former Captain of the track team. He is a Sportsmanship and Most Valuable Player Award winner. Academically he has maintained a 96 average in math and is an honor student. 
Walker simply filled out a scholarship application detailing his interest in the scholarship. He supplied his grades along with a list of extracurricular activities and he was selected as the winner. When I asked Walker how he felt about being the one winner out of the hundreds of applicants he said he was “speechless.” Walker is still undecided on the next step in his future although he says that college is definitely the next step. His advice to other teens trying to be great achievers, “My mother always said, determination and dedication was the key. If you reach for the stars, you’ll fall at least to the clouds so keep working hard and you’ll get there.” 

The Carrie Terrell Youth Achiever of the Year Award was established by the Black Achievers in Industry Committee in 1994 as a symbol of representing Carrie Terrell’s dedication and devotion to young people. Carrie served as the Chairperson on the Black Achievers Committee and was the first woman to serve on the Harlem YMCA Board of Managers. 

Gerri Warren-Merrick was also honored with the Dr. Leo B. March award. The Marsh Award is given to the person who best exemplifies Dr. Marsh’s philosophy of spirit and commitment to the Youth of the Harlem community. Dr. Leo B. Marsh was a financial consultant with the YMCA of Greater New York whose primary vision was to foster the development of young people. 
The event was incredibly successful. It was a wonderful way for the YMCA to celebrate 35 years of Black Achievement.

Shaunetta Gibson

WASSUP! This is the time to elaborate on the privilege of having duties. I have been working with HarlemLIVE for a couple of months now and it has been a serious. It’s been a lot of work but I keep learning new things and enjoying the process. It is going to stay LIVE and GULLY here at HL because I believe that even though everyone has a lot of work to do and a commitment to HL that they have a commitment to themselves to put effort into their work and not forget their here because they want to be here. No one forces us to participate in programs that help enhance our skills, to have fun, or to accomplish self-set goals; we do that all on our own.

One of my prospective duties now will be getting in contact with potential partners who would be interested in becoming members of HL, also People who’d be interested in helping HarlemLIVE financially, personally and/or in anyway externally and/or internally. So if your one of those people you can always get at me at

Shaunetta at work

To sum up what I am like I am a very friendly person and often I find myself open to learning anything. I am very busy because I am very active. I’m an attendee of Martin Luther King High School of Arts and Technology, and proud member of my school leadership committee, “Hands Across The Campus”. I’m also a dedicated member of my After School Program, “The After School Program in The Lincoln Square Business Improvement District”. I believe I am capable of bringing the knowledge, time, experience, patience and the creativity that I have and continuously develop to HarlemLIVE. 

Two things I hate most about doing anything is being bored (so of course I have to make my time here fun) and doing something that seems incomplete. I also have to add my own since of creativity to my duties. 
I have been able to work on Journalism, Photography, Public speaking/Public Relations, Administration, Web editing and Marketing for the time that I have been with HL (doing a little bit of everything with the permission of time). I’ll be here at HL doing what I can for a minute, so I’m going to enjoy my experience because I want to. I want to make a difference and HarlemLIVE will be a starting line. In any event that there’s a finish line, I hope that no one is waiting at the end because then I would be able to realize everyone was doing their own thing, racing against time not me. 

I love expressing myself through writing and THIS publication is helping me expand my opportunities and possibilities for myself and my future…Now my whole life story must be told in as much detail and essence as possible, I have all the time in the world…and…just kidding…But I love to write, as I mentioned before, but my main passion is THINKING, if that is even considered a past time. Umm what else talkative is my middle name, opinionated, energized and poetic are words that describe me. I love energy especially chemistry (the chemistry between an idle person and her workspace, the chemistry between a person and a goal and even chemistry between people who appreciate the completion of an idea. (Lets not forget Calculus. Oh wait that’s math but I think ya’ll get the picture.)

While I’m writing I have to shout out The Studio Museum In Harlem because I got the opportunity to be apart of the “Expanding the Walls” program (from the fall of 2003 to the summer of 2004), an intergenerational photography based program, which was a great experience. That allowed me the experience in learning about myself and my historically valued culture (much props to SMH) Any way Thanks for listening to my motor mouth behind and check me in a couple of more months when I have some more to say because I can never say to little or too much because I value my thoughts. My profile might even be shorter…
Check YA Later, Netta Dizza

Expanding the Walls

by Kateria Vorotova

Expanding The Walls (ETW) is what happens at The Studio Museum in Harlem on 125th street every Wednesday and Saturday where 16 teenagers and a very cool 23 year-old meet to “expand their horizons.” 

In a nutshell, Expanding the Walls is a “multidisciplinary exploration of community, history and photography of Harlem,” said Rayne Roberts, the ETW coordinator. “The youth explore these three notions by using art and photography as a tool. Students look at art and have discussions sparked by their observations. By exploring art we explore our own life and issues in Harlem”.
If you looked around the room on the second floor where teens meet every Wednesday and Saturday for 3-4 hours per session, you’ll discover Polaroid shots the students took taped on the wall, including documentary photos of places in the community such as the Lenox Lounge, photos of different angles Harlem could be viewed as (hair styles, advertisements, etc), and photos of people that they think are part of the community of Harlem and who they think are not. Discussions arise around questions such as “is the hot dog guy part of the community if he’s here every day with his cart although he’s from Brooklyn? What defines being a member of community and what stereotypes do we make when we think of Harlem?” 
So what keeps the students coming back and spending their weekend time?
Expanding the Walls attracts teens that are interested in learning the art of photography. In the program, students have access to Polaroid cameras, 35 mm cameras, arts and crafts to create collages, as well as direct access to the Black Romantic exhibition downstairs in the Studio Museum displaying such art works as “Eminence” by Kehinde Wiley, an artist in residence. Eminence is a piece depicting an African American man in a business suit with unbelievably long hair: curls that spread throughout the whole Martha Stuart sea foam color background. The students closely examine and discuss the artworks from the galleries. 

They also visit other events in the community and museums and art galleries. They also get to meet artists in residence of the museum such as Kehinde Wiley. “By the end of the summer, they will be able to give tours of the gallery displaying pieces by Artists in residence, facilitate conversations with senior citizens, and produce an exhibit of their own work.” Roberts says. Their work will consist of Polaroid and black and white photos, collages, and writing. Their own photos are very diverse reflecting their own artistic expression. Some of their photos show someone stepping in sticky hot gum, portraits with interesting light and scenes that portray the Harlem community. Whatever your tastes are, you’ll find something that will grab your attention in these youngsters’ works.
Jorelle Hayes, 16 said, “In Expanding The Walls, I’ve learned about the life and artworks of James Van Der Zee (who is one of the most prominent photographers who documented the life of Harlem between WWI and II. His photographs can be found in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum)”. 
Elizabeth Jacome, 16 remembered that recently they’ve learned about light, composition, and subject matter which they explored in the Black Romantic exhibit. Students looked at works of art in which light, composition and subject matter stood out, and analyzed how they change the interpretation of the paintings. They have later applied the concepts in their own photography in one of their assignment, which was to play with different light and notice how it affects the mood of the photo. They went outside with partners photographing each other, for example, someone who’s half of the face was in shadow half in light or someone looking sad completely in shadow.
Max Borland, 15 said he “learned how to use cameras and talk to people when you take their pictures.” Previously discussing documentary photos, Roberts stressed how having the subjects at ease and behaving normally is essential to a documentary photo. In ETW teens learn how to make their photos believable and not posed.

Borland said he also learned about different places in Harlem such as Marcus Garvey Park, being one of the most beautiful parks in Harlem to photograph, Harlem Hospital, and the Schaumburg Center for Research in Black Culture, when they were assigned to take photographs of community places on a Scavenger Hunt. 

All three teens say they have also learned how to interact with each other and found the environment fun and friendly. They said Expanding the Walls is not like school. “Kids already spend 6 to 7 hours sitting in school taking notes. We don’t want the program to be like secondary school. Expanding the Walls is a place to relax and feel like they can talk about their personal lives and aspirations as artists, which is usually left out in traditional schooling,” Roberts clarifies. “Here young people have a safe space to express themselves. It is not rigid in structure but students are expected to attend all sessions, be on time, and be respectful to one another. Working closely together, teens will get to know each other closely.” 
Pulling together a diverse group of kids gives them a chance to meet new kinds of different people. Jacome goes to an all-girls school so this environment is different for her. Hayes goes to a school where she has to wear a uniform, so when she comes to ETW, she gives her clothes all the imagination she’s got (she comes in with spikes on her bracelets and safety pins on her jeans J). “Everybody in my school is very conventional. Here people are more individualistic,” said Hayes. 

“Here I meet different people. In school I’m kind of a loner.”
Expanding the Walls sounds like a fun and beneficial program, but as everything today it requires money. ETW began when Sandra Jackson, the director of the Educational Department in Studio Museum, received a grant for the program from the Nathan Cummings Foundation. They had a pilot 8-week ETW program which proved itself very successful, and the 7 month long program was accepted, funded, and launched.
But even with money, it takes dedication and heart from the people who run the program. Rayne Roberts is an NYU graduate originally from California. She was a photo editor of VIBE magazine prior to getting a job at the Studio Museum. With her experience in the hippest music magazine, the participants of ETW find her fun and can relate to her. Hayes says Rayne is nice and dedicated, Jacome thinks she’s smart and friendly, and Borland said, “She’s very into this whole thing and she’s cool like another student, not like another teacher, which is a good thing.” She has a positive attitude and believes in the potential of the youth. Roberts says so far she has enjoyed working with the teens in the program. “They proved themselves very intelligent and creative and impressive. I’m looking forward to working with them and getting to know them better. It’s gonna be a lot of fun!” 
ETW is not just a fun program. Art education is a good way to improve the community. “ETW will allow youth in Harlem to break-down their current relationships to art, their relationship to the art world, their communities and to each other. They will begin to think about themselves as artists and recognize the ability they have to impact their communities with art. It will open a door that has traditionally been inaccessible to youth in the kinds of communities that Harlem represents.” Roberts says. “The students in the ETW program will leave with an unforgettable experience in which they were pushed to develop their communication skills, critical thinking and technical skills in the art of photography. Art is fun and kids want to have fun, what better way to help them grow and learn about themselves and think critically than by asking them to be creative!?” she finishes passionately.
As you can see, the ETW summer looks very promising: educational and fun. It is great that opportunities such as Expanding the Walls exist for the youth giving them access to everything they need to express their creative abilities and display their works in an art show, as well as gain skills as photographers and museum guides. Expanding the Walls is also after a good cause: to improve communication and understanding between the younger generation and the older generation as students work with senior citizens. Expanding the Walls is an awesome program and hopefully more of such opportunities arise for teens who are looking to do something productive and educational in the summer.
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