It didn’t take those summoned to the GHCC 2017 Partnership/Sponsors Breakfast Meeting long to pick up on Lloyd Williams’ announcement of the theme for the upcoming Harlem Week.
Every speaker at the meeting last week at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building embellished the theme “Harlem: Home of Immigrants—Honoring New York’s International Diversity.” Williams, the president of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, expounding on the theme, said, “Unless you are a Native-American, you are an immigrant. But Harlem remains the home of the Irish, the Italians and the Greeks, to the Cubans, the Dominicans and to those of the Jewish faith.
Williams continued, “Harlem is a place for those from the Caribbean, and the Germans. What I’m saying is that Harlem is an international community, but we need to communicate. We don’t have to agree, but we do have to communicate.”
And that morning of communication began with Donna Walker-Kuhne’s elaboration of “Fleet Week at the Intrepid,” a three-day affair from May 27 to May 29. “On the 28th,” she explained, “we will have a cultural participation of dance, theater and catering. This will give us an opportunity to present the city’s diversity and they can see what we look like and how we contribute to cultural tourism here in New York.”
In his review of the highlights of Harlem Week 2017, Winston Majette wove the international theme through “A Great Day in Harlem” Sunday, July 30, to Saturday, August 26, and the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run. Between these opening and closing events, Majette cited NYC Economic Development Day at Columbia University Aug. 10. “We will be showcasing international affairs and global business initiatives,” he said.
At the center of the international theme is the nexus of Harlem/Havana, and Voza Rivers extrapolated on the success of last year’s debut and how the diversity theme will continue in a series of outdoor and indoor events, including dance and music at Jazzmobile, Harlem Summer Stage, Summer in the City, and on Harlem Day.
“Last year we kicked off the Harlem/Havana event with a Cuban ensemble in concert with Harlem musicians at the Cathedral Church of St. John Divine, making it a really great integrated activity,” he said. And that event is slated again, with a variety of festivities at the Dance Theatre of Harlem to the closing gala at the Mural Pavilion of Harlem Hospital Center.
Nothing personifies “Harlem: Home of Immigrants” more appetizing than the diverse cuisine from the local restaurants, and Rivers cited a few of the venues that are part of this culinary initiative, with a special shoutout to Oso’s Matt Trebek, who was in attendance.
Among a cluster of new events, Williams announced that a reception at Gracie Mansion July 18 will get things off to a bustling start. The Dominican Republic will command the spotlight on diversity as well as the focus on Dominican Village on Harlem Day, Aug. 20. A good number of people raised their hands when Williams asked who among them had traveled to Cuba over the past two years as part of the Harlem delegation. Given the general enthusiasm for the tours and the arts festival in honor of Harlem and Havana, that number is sure to increase in 2018.
Rivers, in follow-up remarks indicated that during Harlem Week, “A Focus on Senegal” will be the center of activities devoted the various African communities that now live in Harlem.
Rivers added, “We will have a similar program emanating from the Caribbean Cultural Center in East Harlem.”
Clayton Banks of Silicon Harlem, during his overview of the technology initiatives, immediately invoked the Harlem Week theme by citing a litany of immigrants and their contributions to the digital age. “When you think of Apple, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon and Google, they were all created by second-generation immigrants,” he said. “So the theme of Harlem Week is quite appropriate for our tech activities.”
Banks listed several events in which technology will be essential to presentations, including a youth hack-a-thon as part of the “Space & Science Week” on the Intrepid, urban technology at Columbia University during the NYC Economic Development Day and the demystifying of technology during Senior Citizen’s Day and a “Back-to-School” two-day children’s festival.
From the mayor’s office, to LDI Color Tool Box, the New York Daily News, New York Road Runners, Emmis Communications, Sunshine Sachs, Harlem Week Fashion, the NAACP, and to the NY Carib News, the Harlem Week theme gained resonance, and Karl Rodney, the publisher of the Carib News, gave the issue of immigrants a special importance through all the conferences he has sponsored in collaboration with the GHCC, to say nothing of the role his paper has played in promoting the more than 100 events that unfold over nearly a month during Harlem Week.
“As always, we are glad to be partnered with Harlem Week and particularly the emphasis that will redound on the Caribbean this year,” Rodney said after invoking a number of notables—Marcus Garvey, Harry Belafonte and Colin Powell—all Harlemites with roots in the West Indies.
June 14 at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem Gala, pianist and composer Randy Weston will be the featured artist with an international reputation, and this musical prelude will certainly be a harbinger of the international flair and flavor that will abound during Harlem Week, when any immigrant destination, whether in music, dance or cuisine, will be pleasure-filled.
For more information on Harlem Week, call 212-862-8477 or visit www.harlemweek.com.