Change appears to be inevitable for the communities of the world, and Harlem is no exception. Neither is Paris, where “blandification” is the operative word. But some residents in Harlem possess a sense of history and are determined to preserve a few landmarks where notable tenants reside or once lived.
The focus of the Edgecombe Fundraiser on June 25 has several objectives, all of which pivot around two locations on the avenue—409 and 555. To list some of the prominent tenants of the two buildings is to recite a veritable Hall of Fame of Black Americans: W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Roy Wilkins, Paul Robeson, Marvel Cooke, Joe Louis, Elizabeth Catlett et al.
A full listing of the notables can be found at the website of While We Are Still Here, an organization founded by executive director Karen Taylor. “Our aim is to preserve Harlem’s glorious past, and we begin this initiative with a focus on these two important landmarks in our community,” Taylor said. “We want to create lasting tributes to the movers and shakers of Edgecombe Avenue and beyond.”
To this end, While We Are Still Here has planned a series of workshops, concerts and research projects. Saturday, June 25, the fundraiser will be the first step in securing the funds needed to continue programming for When Sugar Hill Was Sweet: A Centennial Celebration of 409 and 555 Edgecombe Avenue, as the ongoing accumulation of oral histories from Harlemites. The event will take place at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, 3940 Broadway in Washington Heights, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The program will include a performance by noted pianist Helen Sung and her trio and feature the poetic commentaries by Mistress of Ceremonies Sheila Anderson, the veteran voice of WBGO.
Ticket prices range from $15 to $100, all of which are tax-deductible and will include a wine and hors d’oeuvre reception.
For more information, call 929-266-3952 or visit www.whilewearestillhere.org.