When one hears of Harlem New York, automatically Black People and culture comes to mind, in addition to Places like the cotton club, Lenox lounge, jazz lounges and Sylvia’s. People like madam CJ walker, Langston Hughes, Adam Clayton Powell and other notable personatilities. But last but not least the term Black Mecca comes to mind and un-consciously black ownership. What is Mecca? Mecca is one of the holiest cities located in Saudi Arabia to the Muslims. Well Harlem was (and still is) to black people what Mecca is to Muslims (or Arabs) our holy city. However what’s the difference between the Mecca in Saudi Arabia, in the east and the Mecca in Harlem, in the west.
The difference is Mecca (in the east) is flourished with businesses owned and operated by the Arab the people. However the Mecca (in the west) is flourished with businesses owned and operated by other (Arabs, Jews and Africans) people other than black people. With the exception of a few black owned businesses. (FYI when the term black people is used in this blog it is referring to the so called African American) [FYI stands for “For Your Information “ ]
The land or real estate in Mecca in the east is owned by the Arabs, the land or real estate in Mecca in the west is owned by others (mainly the Jews). But why is this situation present? Who is to blame? Is it other nationalities fault that Harlem isn’t owned and operated by black people? Or is it black people’s fault that we don’t own or operate anything in Harlem? Or are we both to blame? Or was it a conspiracy to deprive black people in Harlem (and elsewhere) the right to own and operate their own businesses? And ultimately control their own destiny. How did black ownership get swept from black people in Harlem? Why is it that black people do not control their own education in their own area? (All the above shall be answered in the blogs to come)
I was always taught that everything in existence is based on the law of Cause and Effect (or action and re-action). so therefore Before we can even engage in the conversation about who’s to blame we need to know the what (the history is of what is called Harlem today) where (did the name come from) when (was it named Harlem) who (who named it Harlem) and how (did we get to our present situation), we need to over-stand the beginning or the root of what is called Harlem today and work our way up to today. They say in order to understand the present and have a picture of the possible future you must know and over-stand the past. [ this writer uses the term ” over-stand or over-standing instead of under-stand or under-standing , because to under is to exist below a thing and over is to exist on top of a thing, so today we want to be on top of what has and is going on ]
- Harlem stretches from the east river to the Hudson River, from 155th street to 110th street.
- In the late 1960s, 60% of the businesses in Harlem were reportedly owned and operated by blacks and increasing. (From the book: the economic development of Harlem: by Thomas Vietorisz and Bennett Harrison.)
- In 1910 the population of Harlem was estimated at 181,949. 9.89% black and 90.01% white.
- In 1920 the population of Harlem was estimated at 216,026. 32.43% black and 67.47 white.
- In 1930 the population of Harlem was estimated at 209,663. 70.18% black and 29.43 white.
- In 1960 the population of Harlem was estimated at 163,632. 96.71% black and 2.94 white.
- In 2006 the population of Harlem was estimated at 118,111. 69.27% black and 6.55 white. ( in 1980 the lowest % of whites living in Harlem had dropped to .62%, while blacks made up 94.17% of the population)
Stay tuned for in the next blog we will go into the very origins of this section or part called Harlem from the Native Americans to the Dutch settlers and onward.