7 Events to Explore in Harlem, New York this Saturday


According to wikipedia, Harlem is located in upper Manhattan, or “uptown” as the locals call it. It stretches from the East River in the east, to the Hudson River to the west; and between 155th Street in the north, where it meets Washington Heights, and an uneven boundary along the south that runs along either 96th Street east of Fifth Avenue or 110th Street west of Fifth Avenue.  Harlem has been one of the major African-American residential, cultural and business centers of the United States since the Great Migration of 1905. In the 1920’s and 30’s Harlem experienced an unprecedented outpouring of artistic work in celebration of black life and culture from its African American community. The Harlem Renaissance or the “New Negro Movement”, as it became known gave birth to American iconic writers such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Claude McKay; musicians which included Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong; and Philosopher and critic Alain Locke, and leaders such as A. Phillip Randolph and Marcus Moziah Garvey.

Harlem is/was the home of the Apollo theater, the Cotton Club and the Savoy; iconic theaters and night clubs that have become legends because they were the center of African-American and by extension, American music and dance. The genre’s of music that emerged during that time (jazz, bebop, spirituals, R&B) was emulated in the broader American community and became the musical influence of other other genre’s of American music.

With so much history, significance and influence, it is mind boggling that there was an effort recently to rebrand Harlem in an effort to make it more attractive for real estate investors.  Clearly the folks leading that effort were/are clueless of the rich and significant history of the area. This is why we have to do our own part in reminding folks of Harlem’s history and ensuring that it remains a region of significance. You will have the opportunity to do just that this weekend if you attend or participate in at least 3 of these events that are taking place there this Saturday. These events include:

Harlem Bookfair

The annual Harlem Book Festival is the largest African American book fair in the U.S. For one day in Saturday each year, 135th Street is lined with authors, exhibition booths, workshops, panel discussions, food, handmade crafts, and of course, books, and lots of them. Notable participating authors have included Maya Angelou, Cornel West, Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Walter Mosley, Terry McMillan, Touré, Farai Chideya, Stanley Crouch, Nelson George, and Mark Anthony Neal. This FREE event takes place this Saturday, July 15th 10 am – 6pm W. 135th St & Malcolm X Boulevard

Go Africa Harlem Street Festival 

This event is described as a celebration of the city’s African diversity with excellent displays of the unique goods and services provided by African & Caribbean merchants on 116th street and throughout the NYC metro area. This FREE event takes place this Saturday, July 15th 10 am – 7pm West 116th Street, Between Adam Clayton Blvd (7th Ave) and Frederick Douglass Blvd (8th Avenue)

Harlem Arts Stroll

Harlem Arts Stroll is an innovative collaboration of galleries, art spaces and businesses in West Harlem from 110th Street to 160th Street from Lenox to Amsterdam Avenue showcasing art from June to October 2017 featuring curated work of artists, designers and makers on the Third Saturdays of each these months: Arts Horizons LeRoy Neiman Art Center, Harlem Needle Arts, Gadson Gallery, La Maison d’Art, Calabar Gallery, Neighborhood Women’s Collective, ImageNation, Harlem Pride, Inc., The Shrine, I, Too Collective, and many others.

The goal of the arts stroll is to introduce artists to the public, encourage the public to come and see art on a monthly basis and drive traffic to all the participants in the summer and fall months. This month’s stroll takes place this Saturday July 15th, 1pm to 6pm. art exhibitions can be seen at Art Horizons, Gadson Gallery, La Maison d’Art, Calabar Gallery, Neighborhood Women’s Collective.

Joan Belgrave & Kirk Lightsey: Wearing All The Hats

In this talk, vocalist Joan Belgrave (jazz, blues, gospel and R&B) and her accompanist, 80-year-old piano legend Kirk Lightsey, share lessons from the bandstand and backstage learned over a lifetime in music. They’ll also read from the book they penned together with Lonnie Plaxico, Playing through the Years: Life & Times In this Business of Music. This ticketed event (Suggested $10) takes place at the 2 pm – 3:30 pm at the National Jazz Museum 58 West 129th Street, NY, NY

Barrio Bikes

Image Source: Flickr/Danny Kim

Join this group on an easy bike ride from East Harlem to Randall’s Island Urban Farm. FREE citibikes available. 1 pm – 3 pm (arrive half hour before scheduled time) 102nd Street and 1st Avenue.

Fashion on the Hudson

As I did the other 6 events, I came across this event on EventBrite. I am not familiar with the venue, show or the producers of this event.  From a distance it looks like this may be a grassroots effort to showcase the talents of designers who don’t have deep pockets and solid connections to show their work during New York fashion week.  I’m not expecting a swag bag and I get the sense that there will be delays and disarray of all kinds. Despite all of that, the weather promises to be nice (it’s outdoors) and this is where you will also find me on Saturday, right on the front row with my other blogging colleagues (hopefully) doing my part to support emerging designers and this companies effort to provide them with an audience and platform where they can show their work. This event takes place this Saturday, July 15th 12 pm – 5:30 pm at Riverbank State Park W 145th Street, NY, NY 10031.

Empowerment Social

The Empowerment Social is a day party with a purpose. A purpose to inspire, connect and network with like minded professionals and entrepreneurs looking to manifest their goals and dreams. The event will feature “Empowerment Talks” throughout the day with thought leaders from various industries. This ticketed event ($25) takes place Saturday July 15th 12 pm – 5 pm at MIST Harlem 46 W 116th Street in Harlem.