They Marched In Harlem …………. dedicated to David Basora, who is as genuine as Harlem.

Harlem so lush with beauty, rich with history, is perhaps the cultural bastion of America.
I think that today’s Harlem exists because America did not live up to its proclamation of “Reconstruction.”

Yet another swift kick in the teeth to African Americans.
Yet another move to destroy her own citizens.

I do not understand America’s racist agenda for in reality all
of America suffers if one of us suffers.

Harlem is a place created by racism, nurtured by artistic brilliance.
I have wanted to visit since reading David Levering Lewis.

“When Harlem Was In Vogue.”
I think that much of it began as an Astor getaway from central Manhattan.

Just before my trip I was made aware of a particular group of very beautiful buildings that I ought to visit.
They were called The Beautiful Ladies.

I found all of Harlem to be beautiful, and my visit too short.
This rich cultural heritage created by so many African American Artists, Entrepreneurs, Poets, Novelists, Play Writes, Dancers, people who populated the studies of my youth and made them rich in color and excitement.

I soaked up James Baldwin’s anger at fifteen.

I dreamt of visiting Richard Wright in Paris when very young.
Today I read his haiku.

So much life breathes in Harlem today exuding artistic expression.
I felt her actively sweating, as I stood at her crossroads.

On a warm and breezy summer night after a fine meal at the Red Rooster 310 Lenox Avenue.
I simply stood in the dusk on 125th street at Malcolm X. The epicenter of the world for so many Americans.

I stood, I felt, I absorbed the depth of Harlem’s pleasures, her rich and varied history.
I let it seep deep within my bones. I was finally here, at last standing in a place to which I had longed to come.

I have long known Phyllis Wheatley, Claude MacKay, Jean Toomer, David Levering Lewis, Langston Hughes.
Where would America be without them?

Phyllis was the first African American woman to publish a book.
She did so in 1773.

There were Countee Cullen, Nella Larson, W.E.B. Dubois,
James Weldon Johnson. I have a library rich in Harlem’s history – filled with my friends.

I was young but I educated myself for wanting to know my fellow man and woman.
Believe me, if you are an American and you do not know one of those names, you know nothing.

Phyllis Wheatley a classical poet.
Do you know what JWJ did for the NAACP?

If you cannot recount at least ten facts of the Harlem Renaissance then you are not educated.
You are lacking in the depth and breath of America’s richest heritage.

To be educated in the ways of white history in America
without knowing African American history is to be greatly lacking.

You will be missing vital knowledge, knowledge that makes you whole.
You are not educated at all.

Surely you have read Arna Bontemps. Oh how I wish that I could go back in time!
Go back to Harlem’s Golden Age. Go back and join the rich gathering of Harlem’s Renaissance, go back and breathe in the

essence of their poetry, feel the rhythms, peek at Marcus Garvey’s parade. And Harlem had parades. Oh yes!
They had parades.

They all lined the streets to welcome home
The Fifteenth Regiment of New York’s National Guard in February of 1919.

I could go on for days. I so love Harlem.
Now that I have been to see her. I am complete. Thank you blessed city for so much.

My husband yelled out: “Hey Charlie … how ya doin?  He responded with a wave.”

Dinner our last night … a rainy night, a cosy, yummy and sophisticated restaurant.

Posted at dVerse Poets Pub openlinknight.

37 thoughts on “They Marched In Harlem …………. dedicated to David Basora, who is as genuine as Harlem.

  1. I’ve been in Harlem as well and know its beauty. So much talent has arisen from Harlem. What’s not to appreciate about that! Your poem and photos were a fine tribute.

  2. You have painted her in such rich and vibrant colours. I don’t know too much about Harlem but, now I know a whole lot more than the badness TV shows depict. It’s great to see you had such a good visit there and are so glad you went. I agree, it is such a huge part of American history, how can it be overlooked.
    A lovely read.

  3. smiles…i would love to visit…and i know a bit…helped a boy last year study up a bit on african american history…being african american himself and knowing little…you capture its richness while also condemning most for knowing so little…its been hidden away much i do think…

  4. I have never been there but I would like to see the beautiful ladies in my lifetime ~

    I think embracing our roots, black and white, will make us richer and appreciative of all the wonderful talents of the nation ~

    Thanks for sharing the wonderful pics too ~

  5. The richness of Harlem is present inthis post. It’s quite wonderful. And reading the writers you mention is even more meaningful if you are part of any group that is somehow marginalized. Wonderful! Bladwin makes it okay to be angry. Hughes makes it okay to be lyrical. And on it goes.

    Meanwhile, back to haiku. Here is a post from blogger Colin in Scotland. It’s on Haiku. You might find it interesinting.

    • Jamie thank you for your words. They mean a great deal. In terms of Harlem post-Sandy, she should be fine. It was lower Manhattan that got hit badly with flooding … up to about fortieth I believe. Oh thank you for the piece on Haiku, I look froward to reading it.

      • Forgive me for embedding myself in the folds of you two! As I wallowed in the richness of this writing and, obviously, its content, I kept saying, “Oh, Jamie’s going to love this.”

        I visited NYC in 1974 – a dashing Australian was waiting for me at JFK and he showed me the city. When, at last, he asked if there was something I wanted to see, I said, “Harlem!”

        This brave, hardy, masculine Aussie looked at me and said, “Are you crazy? Whites don’t dare go there.”

        I couldn’t believe the response, but didn’t argue. I thought I must not understand – I must be too much of a country girl. But then, all those fabulously creative white people I read about must have been either country souls or talented souls to have been so accepted. I didn’t know then how much I could trust my soul!

    • I agree with you. I love this piece and have the Johnny Otis version. Since Jazz, especially from this era is my favorite music, I might have other versions too. Thanks Amy for your wonderful comments.

  6. Hi Raven….just visiting dVerse today for Poetics and see it is your birthday! Hope you are having a Happy Birthday; and I look forward to your poem tomorrow!!

  7. Pingback: Pretzels & Bullfights – Use your voice « dVerse

  8. I just saw this over at dVerse. First of all, happy birthday. I am from NYC and my parents told me wonderful stories of going to the Cotton Club. There is some of the most beautiful architecture in that part of the city. Glad you were able to visit. Great write.


  9. You have described so well the soul of this place. I was working in and out of NYC many times in the early seventies but never made it into Harlem. We stayed right in Manhatten so I was so close… I guess a certain amount of its magic spilled over into Manhatten because it had such a vibrant atmosphere. Sorry to have missed the magic you describe. Wonderful photos.

Your words of response are greatly appreciated.

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