The Harlem Oral History Project

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HARLEM TALKING: THE HARLEM ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

Harlem Talking, a production of We Care Media Arts Inc., is an introduction to some of the remarkable men and women — from ordinary citizens to famous personalities — who have lived and worked in Harlem, New York City.

We Care was founded in the late 1960s by Sam Walton, under the mentorship of Dr. Mamie Phillips Clark, director of the Northside Center for Child Development, to help the people of Harlem empower and help themselves.

We Care Media Arts continues this work through its film internship program and an ongoing film/oral history project that work hand in hand to bring young people and long time Harlem residents together. Over the past decade, We Care has recorded a series of interviews with a wide variety of people who have lived in Harlem —  some for over ninety years! These interviews record memories of migration to the community, daily life, careers, family traditions, business, music, the arts and other aspects of the history of Harlem, through the eyes of its own citizens. They also document the rich cultural and political traditions of the neighborhood from the “Harlem Renaissance” until the present. Many of these interviews reveal the incredibly strong values of those interviewed and their commitment to their community.

One of the major problems facing all neighborhoods is the enormous gap between older citizens — the holders of the community’s history — and young people, who in the rush of daily events often have little time to pay attention to their heritage,  especially as embodied by their elders. This problem is exacerbated in Harlem because of the particular history of the past thirty years. Harlemtalking.org is an attempt to bring together the talent and leadership that will bridge this gap through education and awareness.