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Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America Paperback – January 22, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
In the 1900's Harlem seemed to have no center but was made up of a vast number of cultures and traditions all blending and hitting against themselves. At its core it was dynamically creative; that was its commonality. These few blocks carved out of the Manhattan Island gave birth to scads of writers, all types of artists, political thinkers. The people were created by their environment just as much as they designed their neighborhood. Maybe in some ways neither people nor place created the other. The place and the people allowed one another to create them(it)self. Place, time and humanity exploded and Harlem as a place and as an idea was born. And we're all the better for it.
As a young writer Rhodes-Pitts moves north from her home state of Texas and begins to absorb Harlem. She does her research but finds more questions than answers, she goes to political meetings and becomes overwhelmed with all the divergent thinking and causes, she stands on the streets watching the many parades, demonstrations, the neighborhood's ever changing spew of notices, sidewalk graffiti, etc. She talks to the residents both the long and short term ones, she goes to funerals, she talks with the unique street people that only Harlem could have. I love how she doesn't come to any hard conclusions but let's herself be awash in the mythology of this place.Read more ›
Rhodes-Pitts introduces us to several of her older neighbors, who have experienced the dramatic changes of this now resurgent section of Manhattan that counts Bill Clinton and other whites as new residents. Despite these recent changes, a culture of respect and camaraderie, based on mores of African Americans who migrated to New York from the Jim Crow South decades ago, still exists. We also learn about past residents of Harlem, including familiar ones such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Marcus Garvey and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and less well known but no less important figures, including George Young, whose bookstore was known as the "Mecca of Literature Pertaining to Colored People", and Victoria Earle Matthews, the founder of the White Rose Home, which aided female emigrants establish a foothold and learn basic skills necessary to survive in a metropolis that existed beyond the imagination of the daughters of slaves and sharecroppers.
The book is divided into thematic chapters, which include the literature of Harlem, the neighborhood as a place of refuge, written signs and messages with overt and hidden meanings, and past and current efforts to keep the neighborhood from becoming gentrified or unduly commercialized.Read more ›
This book will stand as the definitive one for those who want to know how Harlem, NY got to its present state of million dollar condos and multimillion dollar brownstones. Both the upside and the problematics of these recent developments are fully explored in these pages. This is an important book by an important new writer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We are a couple who were born in Harlem and still live in Harlem. This book has great history lessons.Published 20 months ago by Yvonne Carr
I was very please with all the books and other products I have purchased from Amazon. Thank you so much for askingPublished on April 15, 2013 by Ms. Gwendolyn L. McGrew
Because I had heard Sharifa Rhodes-Pitt read from her memoir at a literary gathering about a year ago, I was eagerly awaiting reading the complete book. Read morePublished on April 11, 2013 by tony giffone
The subject of Harlem is very interesting but the book fails. Part is memoir but it does not deliver a compelling narrative of a sojourn in Harlem. Read morePublished on January 21, 2013 by Written word
Seeing that this book was one of those that I was "saving" in my TBR pile, I wanted it to be extraordinary and worth the wait. I was disappointed. Read morePublished on September 24, 2012 by The Prissy Snob