Mapped out: Harlem under the redistricting knife

HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 2/5/2012, 1:08 p.m.

There is speculation the congressional primaries will be set for June 26, though Farrell said that is not an ironclad date.

The decrease in the district, and Harlem in particular, is not only a concern for Rangel, it's a situation obvious to all the elected officials. "When I was first elected in 1992," Assemblyman Keith Wright recalled, "my district was 86 percent Black. Ten years later, Blacks represented 66 percent. Now they total about 51 percent. We've lost more than 100,000 African-Americans over the last decade."

Why has there been such a dramatic decrease? "First of all, there's the economy," Wright explained. "Then there is the vast number of retirees, many of them leaving the city for cheaper residences down South."

Many of the community's younger Black residents, Wright said, have found it less expensive to live in New Jersey and other places rather than in Harlem.

"I was approached by a former Black resident who asked me why there were so many whites now living in Harlem," Wright said. "And I told him it was because he had left. Whites are not coming to Harlem because they want to live next door to Black folks; they realize it's a lot cheaper here than downtown."