AFRICANGLOBE – It is always an immense pleasure to fellowship with positive Black people, a time when the “I just happen to be Black” types are totally absent. I recently had that experience at two events — attending the Ron Walters Legacy Conference at Howard University and lecturing on Harlem at the John Henrik Clarke House in the country’s most famous neighborhood.
The conference honoring brilliant political scientists, Ron Walters, featured friends, colleagues, former students and readers of his information-filled column such as myself who provided personal insights on the truly remarkable contributions Ron made to the advancement of our cultural, political and economic interests in this country.
As a self-described scholar-activist, he didn’t just write about major events that occurred during his life, he actively participated in them on every level. The Ronald W. Walters Leadership & Public Policy Center at Howard University was established to both honor Ron and “to serve as a focal point for research publications and leadership development activities”.
The second source of much intellectual and spiritual uplift was having an opportunity to speak to friends, colleagues and supporters of the great historian, Dr. John Henrik Clarke at the Clarke House in Harlem. One could actually feel Dr. Clarke’s presence in the brownstone. The event was sponsored by the Board for the Education of People of African Ancestry whose chair is James McIntosh MD. Its co-chair is Betty Dopson.
My remarks focused on what we as Blacks are losing as the racial composition of Harlem rapidly changes. A neighborhood that has been a major creative center for Black culture is just a few years away from being something very different.
Money Driven Developers
The community was originally developed to be New York City’s first suburb at a time when Times Square was considered uptown Manhattan. That’s why it has those wide streets and sidewalks, why it has more brownstones than any other section of Manhattan, and why 125th Street has always been a major transportation hub for the City.
This makes it an inviting target for money-driven developers, including Columbia University which used to say it was in Morningside Heights to avoid any connection with the name Harlem. Now it boasts of being in West Harlem.
The positive Black people in the Clarke House that afternoon, though somewhat pessimistic about Harlem’s future, are determined that its role in Black history will not be totally whitewashed.
I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to listen to, talk to and learn from Drs. Walters and Clarke. I thank those positive Black folks who are preserving their enormous and valuable legacies.
By: Peter Bailey
Mr. Bailey is the author of “Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, The Master Teacher” can be obtained by calling 202-716-4560.