OK, so we almost have it right: bright sunny days, little to no rain, not too hot, not too cold. But it doesn’t smell like fall. Or is it just the poor air quality of the city that prevents us from smelling anything but pollution? What a thought.
On a more pleasant note, Melba’s Restaurant located on 114th Street and Eighth Avenue, the home of comfort food, has expanded. Gone are the days where we all squeezed in together. Now there is enough elbow room for everyone. Same home cooking, just more space to enjoy.
What’s going on with the behemoth that is being erected on 126th Street between Third and Lexington avenues and swinging around the corner to Third and 125th Street? Thus far, it looks pretty impressive. Could it be a hotel, possibly a Hilton, or another high-end luxury Condo? At this point it’s anyone’s guess.
Word just in from Laurent Delly that approximately $6.2 million has been raised to fully restore the bell that adorns the tower located in the center of Marcus Garvey Park. The façade should be complete by this time next year. I hope there will be a party to celebrate. I remember, as a little girl, climbing up to the tower, and what an adventure it was. Two years ago, I took my family up to the top and was surprised to see the bell missing, although a very interesting exhibit sits in its place. Known as the Caesura, a forum, 2015, the structure is an architectural and sound installation made of steel, rubber tube, plastic, film tape, transducers and microphones that has interactive audio software and emits sounds of bells, speeches and rallies. As described by creators Jessica Feldman, Jerome W. Haferd and K. Brandt Knapp, “A ‘caesure’ is a break or pause, a place to catch your breath, most specifically in ancient spoken-word art. Like a bell, caesura aims to call up the neighborhood: to preserve and revitalize Harlem’s histories and to connect community members to each other, reactivating this site for a congregation and listening.” The audio recordings feature excerpts from speeches by Marcus Garvey, Robert Mugabe, Malcolm X and Assata Shakur; field recording of the Marcus Garvey Park drum circle; and various recordings of bells, singing bowls and resonating instruments. The project was made possible by funds from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, co-presented by NYCParks, Marcus Garvey Park Alliance and Mount Morris Park Association, and others too caesure to mention.
Loyal New York Amsterdam News reader Shirley H. Smith recently wrote to me to say, “Read with interest the Delaney-Mitchell article…[on] Louis Latimer. As a scientist/chemistry and physics and founding member of The Louis Latimer Fund of Flushing Queens, I was recruited by his late granddaughter, Winnie Latimer Norma, to the board. With the help of the then Queens Borough President Claire Schulman, we were able to obtain status for the house he [Latimer] lived in and raised his family in Flushing, to be on The National Registry of Historic Houses and the board converted the house to a Science Children’s Museum that is open to the public. A group of us, former board members, are in conversation about getting a United States Postage Stamp in Louis Latimer’s honor. Before Winnie died a few years ago, one-month shy of her 100th birthday, I promised her that I would, with the help of other, get that done. Winnie Latimer Norman was also a member of my sorority and chapter, North Manhattan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.”
Thank you, Shirley!
For those of you who missed that article, tsk, tsk. Latimer was a fascinating individual and his achievements were equally so. You can find the copy by Googling my name and going back about two issues.
As my friend Fonnie often reminds me, we must celebrate, honor and acknowledge our local warriors. One such person was the father of Beverly Brown, who most recently died. Courtney Brown Sr. was born July 29, 1924, in New York City, the eldest of two sons, to Clement and Montell Brown. Courtney attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, and upon graduation attended Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, Courtney attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a master’s degree in history, having studied under the tutelage of the late great historian, John Hope Franklin, and having become a proud member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, which garnered him many lifelong friends.
Upon completion of his graduate degree, Courtney and a partner opened a printing shop and published a contemporary news magazine called, Current News and the Negro World. After a devastating fire ruined their business, Courtney took a job with Sarco Industries in Allentown, Pa. In the early 1960s, Courtney was thrust into the civil rights struggle by accepting a position with the New York Urban League as regional manager of the Yonkers, West Chester County office. There, he led voter’s rights efforts that garnered national attention from then presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy. His efforts for worker education were recognized by then Vice-President Hubert Humphrey.
Courtney served on the vestry of St. Philips Episcopal Church for many years. He spear-headed the Young Adult Youth Ministry in the mid-1960s, which became the standard for outreach ministry for its time. In addition, Courtney was the warden at the time of construction of all of the housing developments and community service extensions at St. Philips Church. Courtney was involved in many literary pursuits, having written a published version of the St. Philips Church History, as well as accomplishing one of his signature achievements: serving as contributing editor for the Metropolitan Museum Exhibit and companion book, “Harlem on My Mind.”
Courtney worked for Alex Haley as a field reporter on the Kinte Project, funded by Carnegie Foundation and Ford Foundation grants. This project involved Courtney traveling throughout the South and interviewing people of color who had stories handed down from slavery and segregation, which led to the publishing of the landmark book, “Roots.”
Courtney worked for more than 40 years as regional director of the New York State Division of Human Rights and as an adjunct professor at both New York University and the Hunter School of Social Work, where he was awarded the prestigious Elaine Lurie Prize for his outstanding work as a professor. The proceeds of this reward were donated to St. Philips Church. Courtney was the recipient of numerous civic and community awards, and was the founder of his beloved organization of childhood friends, The 30 Year Friends Club. He was president of the Dunbar Tenant Association for many years and was pivotal in presenting the history of the great explorer, Matthew Henson, who lived there, resulting in recognizing the location as a New York City Landmark.
Until next week…kisses.