The Harlem community is home to the rise of new campaign, “Black Harlem Lives.” The campaign, which celebrates the Black community and authentic Harlem culture, was born in response to a New York Times article “Black Harlem Has Come to an End.” Black Harlem Lives creator, Nicole Moore, developed the campaign as a way to endorse and recognize Black people and their stories in the Harlem community. Moore timed the launch of the campaign to coincide with the conclusion of the Harlem Week festivities.
“Through this campaign I hope to empower the Harlem community with our own stories, especially those of us who are feeling the pinch of disenfranchisement,” Moore said in a press release. “For better and for worse, gentrification is impacting Harlem.”
The campaign has featured a number of profiles on Harlem community members. One such profile is Jean, otherwise known as Harlem’s “Rose Man.” Jean started selling plants in Harlem 36 years ago. His nickname, the Rose Man, stems from his specialty of orchids and roses. “When I moved to Harlem I started to sell on the streets,” Jean said. “I had a shopping cart like this one here and would go from 110th to 145th street. I’m 56 years old and I still like to come out here and sell flowers, but not every day.”
Celeste Beatty is another such individual with strong Harlem roots and a well-established Black-owned business. Beatty is the chief brewing officer of the Harlem Brewing Co. “Everyone told me not to put the name ‘Harlem’ on the label,” she said. “They said it made the brand ‘too ethnic. … There’s a knee jerk reaction to a Harlem brewery, and then to see me, the founder, a Black woman.”
Beatty said in an interview with Black Harlem Lives, “Being Harlem-based, unapologetically so, is an honor and something I don’t regret. Ever.”
Street vendors are a Harlem subculture in their own right. Devorah G is a street vendor who sells bags of nuts and dried fruit on West 125th Street. “I know some people look down on what I do, but selling wares on the street is ancient,” she said. “I’m Beta Israel and this fits who I am. I need to be free to live.”
Black Harlem Lives started as a Facebook group with a handful of members June 23 and has since grown to almost 400 members in seven weeks. Moore, a native New Yorker, is no stranger to campaigns. She is a digital strategist, writer and content creator whose experience spans more than 10 years. She serves as a contributor to the Huffington Post and is also the founder of the lifestyle blog, theHotness.com.
Moore was inspired to become a community activist while working on the documentary “Freedom Summer.” She was stimulated to be “an everyday person able to mobilize people.” In speaking on the revitalization occurring in Harlem, Moore told the AmNews, “Gentrification comes with a whole bag of complexities we need to sort through.”
Through the Black Harlem Lives campaign, Moore hopes to create a platform to be the voice for “ordinary people with extraordinary stories.”