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Harlem Week veteran talks new and improved additions

Tamerra Griffin | 8/8/2013, 10:25 a.m. | Updated on 8/8/2013, 10:25 a.m.

In a month typically bogged down by consecutive heat waves and no national holiday to offer extra relief from work, one event spanning the month of August has served as an exclamation point on the summer season for almost four decades: Harlem Week.

The 39-year-old neighborhood celebration that is at once local and international returns this summer for another series of public events ranging from fashion and health to music and sports. Harlem Week has created a name for itself as the ultimate display of pride at an historically significant site of Black culture. Lloyd Williams has served as a Harlem Week co-chair since its inaugural year in 1974. He discussed the classic and notable events that tend to attract the most attendants.

“The largest crowd is always on Harlem Day. It’s the largest event,” he said of the fete that has attracted 90,000 people in the past. This year, it lands on Sunday, Aug. 18, although a few events have taken place in the final days of July. “On Harlem Day, we have the Upper Manhattan Auto Show, the New York Health Village, a small businesses expo and fair, a family tennis clinic, Children’s Festival and four stages of entertainment.”

Williams highlighted the popularity of Harlem Week fashions shows, which include both youth fashion and upscale trends. The former embraces back-to-school shopping season and showcases the latest kids’ styles. The latter took place on July 28 and was organized by Gayle King.

Williams also noted the Upper Manhattan Auto Show, which features over 120 local and out-of-state vehicles, both antique and contemporary. But above all, Williams stresses the importance of showing other prominent cities across the country their own potential when it comes to the appreciation of Blackness. According to him, the movement has already caught on.

“Harlem becomes the flashlight, the candle for what can happen in other communities,” he said. “We’ve been very pleased that Harlem Week has taken us to New Orleans to work with them, and the Essence Musical [[ED: ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL?]] really came out of Harlem Week.”

To follow the schedule of uptown events kicking off in August, be sure to visit www.harlemweek.com.