Educating Harlem
A Century of Schooling and Resistance in a Black Community

Chapter 9. Black Power as Educational Renaissance: The Harlem Landscape

by Russell Rickford

Chapter 9 Map

Map design by Rachael Dottle and customized for chapter by Rachel Klepper. Map research by Rachel Klepper. Map layers from: Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Department of Urban Planning, City of New York; Atlas of the city of New York, borough of Manhattan. From actual surveys and official plans / by George W. and Walter S. Bromley New York Public Library Map Warper; Manhattan Land book of the City of New York. Desk and Library ed. [1956]; New York Public Library Map Warper; and State of New Jersey GIS. Point locations from: School Directories, New York City Board of Education, New York Amsterdam News via ProQuest Historical Newspapers, and multiple archival sources cited in relevant chapters.

“Harlem is a collage of conflicting images,” one of the community’s adopted sons wrote in the 1960s.1 Indeed, the contradictions of the Upper Manhattan locale were never more pronounced than they were during that tumultuous decade. Contemporary journalists and social scientists tended to see Harlem as a metaphor for decay; they adopted a weary sociological tone when discussing the blight and social disarray of the “Dark Ghetto.”2 Beyond the tales of pathology, however, lay the mystique of the most famous Black neighborhood on the planet. Despite its poverty and deferred dreams, Harlem remained a cultural and intellectual mecca and a capital of Black and Puerto Rican activism.3

Harlem’s dueling identities—as both a locus of oppression and a vibrant “city within a city”—converged in the realm of education. A 1964 study by the community agency Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (HARYOU) reported that by third grade, Central Harlem youths were a full year behind the academic achievement of their New York City peers; by eighth grade they had fallen about two and a half years behind.4 At the same time, Harlem was the site of some of the era’s most powerful educational crusades. Although the modern age of school protest in the neighborhood began in the 1950s following the Brown v. Board decision, many of the most dynamic local struggles unfolded in the 1960s and early 1970s against the backdrop of escalating liberation movements across the country and around the world.5

This essay examines several alternative and community education efforts in Harlem during the decade after the neighborhood’s 1964 street uprising.6 That rebellion, combined with the devastating 1965 assassination of Malcolm X in Upper Manhattan, deepened liberating impulses within local organizing campaigns and expanded the influence of Black nationalist initiatives. The heyday of such activities roughly coincided with the Black Power phase of the African American freedom movement. By the mid- to late 1960s, an array of grassroots ventures sought to imbue Harlem youngsters with a potent sense of racial pride and awareness. Taken collectively, such “black consciousness” projects constituted a tremendous wellspring of militant energy.7

Black Power in Harlem was in many respects a renaissance of educational thought and practice. Questions of pedagogy were at the heart of the community’s most innovative political and cultural endeavors, from the formation of “liberation schools” to the quest for control of Intermediate School (IS) 201 to the battle against the construction of the 125th Street State Office Building. The contemporary “build where you are” ethic and spirit of experimentation led local activists to develop an array of models beyond the conventional structures of public schooling. The greatest elements of ingenuity in contemporary Harlem education sprang from below.

The institutions discussed here did not constitute a uniform movement. No single ideology shaped the terrain of alternative education in Harlem. I use the moniker Black Power to encompass a range of efforts—from classroom strategies to informal practices—that stressed Black and Puerto Rican self-determination and downplayed or rejected integrationist philosophies. Since the 1950s, the local drive for improved schooling had largely centered on integrationist rationales. Yet as of 1964, of the 31,000 students registered for public school in Central Harlem, 91 percent were Black and almost 8 percent were Puerto Rican.8

Educational activities emphasizing Black and Puerto Rican pride and awareness were undertaken by explicitly Black nationalist formations such as the Organization of Afro-American Unity and the Harlem branch of the Black Panther Party. They were pursued, as well, by a politically diverse cohort of parents, organizers, and poverty workers. Local activists such as Babette Edwards, David Spencer, Preston Wilcox, and Audley “Queen Mother” Moore played a central role in crafting and implementing Black Power visions of schooling.

Those visions did not emerge fully formed amid the ascent of the Black Power concept in 1966. Instead they materialized during ongoing quests for educational and social advancement. As early as 1964, the Harlem rent strike leader Jesse Gray had urged residents of the community to draw on “the mass reservoir of black power” to unify and develop what he called “the ghetto.” That same year another local activist, the singer and educator Josephine Buck Jones, declared that, “The Negro people have been at the mercy of a self-perpetuating power structure in the schools.”9 Even as Harlem parents joined the massive 1964 boycotts against racial segregation in New York City schools, the pursuit of local democratic power in education was replacing more narrowly integrationist frameworks as the critical paradigm of struggle.10

The ensuing years brought further radicalization, often expressed in the language of global anticolonialism. Local activists described Harlem as an “underdeveloped” nation in need of self-government. The officials who oversaw the community’s public schools were not simply negligent bureaucrats—they were “colonialists.” Far from a consequence of mere prejudice, the ghettoization of Black people was “for the express purpose of educational, political, economic and social exploitation.”11 Some of these ideas had long germinated within Harlem’s political circles. As faith in appeals to white conscience continued to wane and more residents embraced the principles of Black consciousness and community control, local activists helped convert a “Negro Revolution” into a larger crusade for Black and Puerto Rican liberation.

That cause required a reckoning with the possibilities and limits of the enterprise of education. Few of Harlem’s community education efforts eschewed the human-capital logic of equipping poorer children with marketable skills and preparing them for life in a highly technological society. Social mobility and escape from menial employment were widespread ambitions; local parents vowed to spare the next generation the indignity of having to scrounge for jobs in an affluent land. That meant either redeeming or circumventing a bloated public school system that stigmatized so-called disadvantaged children and at the same time often played a custodial role in minority neighborhoods.

To fulfill the tenets of liberation, however, Harlem organizers had to do more than ensure that local youth were considered educable for employment. They had to end the alienation of Black and Puerto Rican students within the unwieldy regime of New York City schools. They had to equip such children with a sense of cultural dignity. They had to confront the larger political and economic subjugation of the community. And they had to deliver “a total education”—one that exposed the corruption of the existing power apparatus and evoked more humane possibilities.12

Though they failed to accomplish all these objectives, Harlem’s grassroots educational models did a great deal. They operationalized Black Power ideals. They repudiated the term Negro and engaged children of color in a meaningful quest for self-definition. They combined the language of American rights with a boldly Third Worldist orientation. They critiqued Western materialism and the Cold War premise of the inherent virtue of capitalist democracy in the United States. They challenged the assumption that the transmission of middle-class values was an imperative of formal learning. Finally, they enriched the intellectual life of a community that pulsated with radical ideas.

Even a cursory survey of alternative education in Harlem during the era of Black Power reveals a spectrum of aspirations. Many of the ventures outlined below might today be derided as symbols of identity politics because they favored racial empowerment over ostensibly universalist ideals. Yet the initiatives were far from provincial. Indeed, they were often intellectually expansive and cosmopolitan. They remind us that poor, working-class, and lower middle-class Black and Puerto Rican urbanites were more than passive consumers of educational services. They were also creators of institutions and staunch defenders of their right to ensure the proper training of their children.

The Forerunners

Black nationalist activity in the early 1960s laid the groundwork for educational experiments later in the decade. Though Harlem’s nationalist traditions date back to Marcus Garvey and other early twentieth-century figures, the surge of contemporary organizing generated an extraordinary cultural revival. On any given day, a colorful assortment of Afrophiles propagandized local residents, combating what they saw as the malign tendencies of Negro assimilationism. The African Jazz Art Society Studios picketed wig shops and promoted “naturalism” (unprocessed hairstyles) with its Grandassa fashion shows. Meanwhile the Nation of Islam held African Bazaars at the 142nd Street Armory; the Yoruba Temple taught West African languages at its 116th Street headquarters; and the Afro-Caribbean militant Richard B. Moore lectured at a 125th Street gallery on behalf of the “Committee to Present the Truth about the Name ‘Negro.’”13

The hub of nationalist engagement was the septuagenarian Lewis Michaux’s National Memorial Bookstore on 125th Street and Seventh Avenue. Known affectionately as “professor,” Michaux was a fount of Black folk wisdom. His shop, which he had operated since the 1930s, contributed to the edification of generations of Harlemites. The writer Larry Neal later remembered arriving in Harlem in 1961 and discovering in Michaux’s place a veritable shrine to Black history and culture:

On that Saturday, after the speeches and the book buying, Mr. Michaux took us in the back room of his store. It was a crowded room jammed with books and other artifacts. Photographs of Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth stared down at us. There was a heaviness about the room, as if it were crowded with ghosts. The spirit that drew the people to Harlem Square every day was being manifested in the room; ghosts emanated out of old books, photos, and the sounds and rhythms of Mr. Michaux’s voice.14

Michaux’s store was not just a repository of books by and about Black people; it was also a nexus of political expression, a source of knowledge about the nonwestern world, and a destination for African leaders and other dignitaries who visited Harlem. The back of the shop served as a radical salon where ideologues debated each other and where Malcolm X often huddled with his notes before mounting a speaker’s platform erected just outside the building. Michaux himself regularly occupied the street-corner podium, offering evening lectures in Harlem’s “stepladder preacher” tradition. In a 1960s speech titled “Babylon Is Falling,” the elder explained “why we the black people in America should return to thy mother land (Africa) before it’s too late, because there is no room in this white man’s inn, because of the color of your skin.”15

Dubbed the “House of Common Sense and the Home of Proper Propaganda” and “Repatriation Headquarters” of the Back-to-Africa movement, the National Memorial Bookstore exemplified the belief that erudition was crucial to Black advancement. As Michaux once told the boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, “What you put on your head will rub off in your bed. It’s what you put in your head that will last you ’til you’re dead.”16

A more formal vehicle for Black nationalist education lay a few blocks from Michaux’s place at the 116th Street mosque of the Nation of Islam (NOI). The NOI’s stern regimen of racial and moral uplift was designed to rescue “so-called Negroes” from “the grave”—the sea of ignorance and debauchery in which the unconverted were said to wallow. Under Malcolm X’s leadership the Harlem mosque featured a number of educational projects designed to shield the faithful from such degradation. Among them was a youth training program that offered basic academic instruction (the “Three R’s” plus Arabic and Black history) and conveyed the religious body’s austere doctrines. According to the sacred teachings, “A” was for ALLAH, “B” was for “the BLACK MAN,” and “C” was for CLEANLINESS.17

The Harlem mosque greatly expanded its educational offerings in the late 1960s. A bitter political and organizational dispute led to Malcolm X’s ouster from the pulpit (and ultimately from the NOI) between late 1963 and early 1964, and a firebomb destroyed the 116th Street temple after Malcolm was slain in 1965. But the Muslims rebuilt with gusto, constructing a modern, five-story facility that included a house of worship, several NOI businesses, and a school. (This primary and secondary institution bore the name held by all NOI schools—“The University of Islam.”) By the early 1970s, more than seven hundred children ages three to eighteen, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, attended full-time classes at the Mosque No. 7 complex, the brisk efficiency of which seemed to reflect the larger NOI mission of achieving total independence from white America.18

NOI schools cultivated a fiercely entrepreneurial ethic. “Get an education, but not an education that leaves us looking to the slavemaster for a job,” Elijah Muhammad, the organization’s supreme leader, commanded.19 A more radical agenda shaped the instructional efforts of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). The erstwhile NOI spokesman Malcolm X established the OAAU as his secular organ after splitting with Muhammad in 1964. Run by sharp, young intellectuals, including the journalists Lynne Shifflett and A. Peter Bailey, the upstart organization aimed to infuse the Black freedom struggle with the principles of Pan-Africanism and human rights. Political education was central to this mission, so the OAAU launched a Saturday morning Liberation School that held free classes for youths and adults at the storied Hotel Theresa on 125th Street.20

The OAAU had been patterned after the spirit of the Organization of African Unity, a new federation of (some recently) independent nations. That international perspective strongly influenced the Liberation School curriculum, a fact that appealed to local anti-imperialists such as the Japanese American activist Yuri Kochiyama, a Malcolm X ally who attended the school. Liberation School instructors emphasized African and African American history, seeing the absence of such knowledge as “a definite handicap to Black children in their quest for identity.” The OAAU also decried the shortage of material on Black life and culture in New York City schools, and dismissed as “tokenism” the Board of Education’s modest attempts to diversify the curriculum.21

The Liberation School and the embryonic OAAU dwindled rapidly amid the fear and confusion that followed Malcolm X’s assassination in February 1965. Yet both the organization and the school had lasting effects. They helped popularize the term Afro-American as an honorable self-designation for a rising people, and they prepared militants such as the Liberation School director James E. Campbell for future social justice work within and beyond Harlem. The phrase liberation school—a reformulation of the “freedom school” concept—was itself influential. If Malcolm’s death marked the arrival of an era of unapologetic Black consciousness, the liberation school motif helped inaugurate a whole generation of radical ventures.22

A final Black nationalist project in Harlem signaled the advent of a new age of parallel institutions. Galvanized by the death of Malcolm X, the poet-playwright LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka) founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School (BARTS) in a once-elegant West 130th Street brownstone, opening the school’s doors to “the people of the ghetto” in the spring of 1965. The outfit, which briefly secured federal antipoverty funding via HARYOU, sponsored plays, exhibits, and outdoor performances, attempting to embody a revolutionary cultural ethos and serving as “a bridge of communication between the contemporary artist and the Black community at large.”23

BARTS offered young Harlemites classes in the arts and other subjects taught by some of the most gifted Black artist-intellectuals of the day. The jazz composer and bandleader Sun Ra directed the music class; the poet Sonia Sanchez ran the remedial skills course; and Harold Cruse, the talented and curmudgeonly writer, oversaw the “History of the Afro-American Presence as a Culture Within a Culture.” Fees for an eight-week term stood at $1.40 for adults and $.75 for children. Summer sessions enrolled four hundred students; remedial reading and math courses served eighty children ages seven to thirteen.

Law enforcement agents and politicians accused the institution of fostering hatred of white people. BARTS, they insisted, was the locus of “an extreme Negro nationalist society,” a cabal devoted to sponsoring “vile racist plays in the language of the gutter.”24

Yet Cruse called the establishment “one of the most positive institutions developed in Harlem during the last twenty-five years, with the support of a very broad representation from the Harlem youth.”25

Though BARTS folded in 1966 amid bitter internal strife, the venture proved deeply influential. It birthed the Black Arts Movement and inspired the creation of a host of independent schools nationwide. It also exemplified the contemporary theme of African-American self-discovery; celebrated Black vernacular life (in contrast to the cultural constraints imposed by the NOI’s strictures of “respectability”); and projected the idea—soon to become emblematic of uptown dissidents—that Harlem needed to “gain its sovereignty” to be truly free.26

The Coming of Black Power

Some activists focused on creating new educational spaces. Others sought the power to govern existing Harlem schools. As the “Black Power” slogan arose in 1966, several strands of militancy coalesced under the new political creed. The nascent Black Panther Party branch in Harlem captured the spirit of resistance. The fledgling organization introduced itself to local residents as a force that would “attack the rats and roaches, that will attack racist school teachers, that will attack racist cops.”27

The Panthers wished to convert the community’s public schools into instruments of Black consciousness. They joined civil rights groups in pressing for inclusion of African and African American history in Harlem classrooms and even attempted to recruit to the cause neighborhood street gangs and other fringe elements. They also agitated for the appointment of Black principals and for the renaming of schools “to reflect the history and achievements of our people.”28

Other Black Power outfits sought a broader restructuring of public education. In 1967 the Harlem chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) unveiled a plan to sever Central Harlem schools from the New York City Board of Education and form a completely independent district. Spearheaded by the local CORE leader Roy Innis and his educational chair Victor Solomon, the proposal called for the creation of an autonomous entity encompassing 40 neighborhood schools and approximately 50,000 children. The reorganization would have produced the third largest school district in New York State.29

CORE officials presented the plan as an ode to pragmatism. Harlem schools, they insisted, were “bulwark[s] of mediocrity” managed by a distant and cumbersome bureaucracy. Compared to the existing system, an autonomous school board chosen by Harlem residents and chartered by the state would prove far more responsive to local needs. At the heart of the proposal lay the logic of indigenous government, a precept of community control and a source of mounting opposition to the external domination of Harlem. “As in the South,” CORE leaders maintained, “we have a situation where white overlords are overseeing the education of black children.” An independent school district would “give Harlem a place on the map” and offer residents a taste of genuine power.30

This position marked a stark departure for CORE. As recently as 1965, the national civil rights group had viewed the desegregation of northern urban districts as the only effective way to end “the perniciousness of ghetto schools.” Now, amid the turn to Black Power, Harlem CORE was demanding an autonomous district as a means of “improving the lives of black people where they are.” What Innis and Solomon envisioned was not a Bantustan-style territory endowed with nominal authority, but a meaningful step toward self-rule.31

Economic liberation was a further goal. An independent school system would enable local administrators to negotiate contracts with suppliers of their choosing, channeling millions of dollars to indigenous businesses and bringing decent jobs to a community plagued by unemployment. However, the main rationale for the breakaway district was neither financial nor material. Like other Black Power advocates, Innis and Solomon were preoccupied with what they called “the psychology of the black man.”32 One odious consequence of Harlem’s powerlessness, they believed, was the self-loathing that it engendered in community members. There was a certain irony in this perspective. By reducing power relations to the question of mental well-being, CORE’s Black nationalists replicated a key premise of those liberal integrationists who linked racial segregation to the purported anomie of the Black child.

In any case, most New York State legislators declined to seriously consider the autonomous school board plan. Harlem CORE formed a committee of Black and Puerto Rican parents, educators, social workers, and community leaders to prepare a detailed study of the proposal. Support for the effort came from a white liberal group (Friends of Harlem CORE) that hoped to better understand “the new level at which the Black intellectual community is now operating.”33 In the end, however, proponents of the independent district failed to overcome the odor of racial separatism that clung to the plan.

Still, the campaign was hardly fruitless. Though the CORE proposal appeared to lack widespread local backing, many of its premises gained a broader hearing as Harlem’s community control struggle intensified between 1967 and 1970. The view of Black urban enclaves as social entities that must be elevated and preserved; the emphasis on changing the lives of masses of people rather than working toward incremental reform; and the audacious belief that local schools could become “the central institution in the renaissance of Harlem”—all became axioms of struggle in years to come.34

Indeed, some of these outlooks helped shape another local battle in 1967. As Harlem CORE was promoting its school district plan that year, organizers of the West Harlem Liberation School (WHLS) were forging their own visions of educational redemption. The WHLS appeared during a boycott of Public School (PS) 125 on West 123rd Street. For months, parents of students at the 85 percent Black and Puerto Rican elementary school had attempted to gain a role in selecting a principal and establishing a curriculum. A community voice in decision making, they argued, was needed to improve conditions at the school, where the vast majority of children were reading below grade level. After their demands produced “only frustration, antagonism, and heartache,” they launched the strike.35

The protest unfolded amid the rebellious zeitgeist of 1967, a year that witnessed massive street uprisings in Newark and Detroit. Militancy pervaded the rhetoric of PS 125 parents and activists, some of whom inhabited the “brick pill boxes” of Harlem’s nearby Grant Houses, a sprawling public complex. Organizers declared that “miseducation is a form of genocide” and urged parents to “bring your children to the [picket] line,” rejecting the bourgeois impulse to shield youngsters from political confrontation.36 Hoping to demonstrate the validity of alternative educational methods, the boycott committee adopted a dual strategy: it would operate WHLS—an interim academy for PS 125 students—while negotiations with the Board of Education continued.

WHLS reflected the diversity of its creators, who included Black nationalists such as the Columbia University Social Work professor and former Malcolm X associate Preston Wilcox, white liberals from the Morningside Heights area, and leftists such as the veteran activist Maude White Katz, the chair of the boycott committee. Parents, students, and other neighborhood volunteers taught an innovative curriculum at three temporary locations, including two nearby churches and a community center. The course of study occasionally reinforced American triumphalist narratives. For example, students learned that George Washington had led his troops against the British in the Battle of Harlem Heights. But they also discovered through their studies that Northern capitalists had profited from the slave trade, and they engaged in discussion and role-play designed to celebrate and contextualize Harlem’s fight for a local say in school affairs.37

WHLS pupils worked from a special “Liberation Notebook” designed by parents. They perused mimeographed pamphlets on Harriet Tubman and Malcolm X. They studied African and Puerto Rican history. They recited folk songs and Langston Hughes poems, including “The Ballad of the Landlord,” a piece about a defiant tenant living in slum conditions. They even mounted a brief takeover of City Hall to publicize boycott demands. Though the atmosphere of WHLS was often raucous, students seemed to enjoy the school’s air of exuberant improvisation. They also appreciated its borrowed facilities, which included classrooms in Riverside Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. As one child remarked, “This school is better than 125 because 125 has roaches—but Riverside don’t have roaches.”38

By reprising the OAAU’s “liberation school” theme, WHLS projected an image of uncompromising resistance. Though the school operated only nine days, more than two-thirds of PS 125 students attended its freewheeling sessions. In so doing, they gained exposure to key concepts in democratic education. The organizers of WHLS embraced the principle that no youngster is “culturally deprived.” They provided free lunches for students and arranged afterschool and preschool programs for the children of working parents. Most important, by constructing an evocative alternative, they dramatized “the failure of P.S. 125 to provide our children with the kind of education that will enable them to deal with the inequalities that exist in the world.”39

The Apex of Consciousness

Other contemporary liberation schools appeared, including one conceived by the Young Lords, a cadre of radical Puerto Rican nationalists that briefly seized a church in East Harlem (or El Barrio) in 1969 to house the makeshift academy. Acting against the backdrop of the larger community-control movement in New York City, the group attempted to expose the coercive tactics by which both the state and religious authorities resisted radical reform. “The Board of Education needs cops to keep the Public School prisons open,” one Young Lords flyer read. “The Methodist Church needs cops to keep the Liberation school closed.”40

The Young Lords saw the liberation school as one component of a larger program of parallel services designed to supplement the crumbling social infrastructure of El Barrio. During their occupation of the church the Puerto Rican activists operated a free breakfast program for children, a day-care center, and free health clinics.41 The aim was a complete reordering of existing arrangements. The bourgeois church, a site of propriety and law-and-order, was to become a “people’s church” (la iglesia del pueblo), a zone of replenishment and reallocation.

Of course, the Young Lords also wished to reconstruct the architecture of knowledge. Surrounded by racism, poverty, and unemployment, East Harlem children were denied the critical skills necessary to fully comprehend the origins of their suffering. Liberation school organizers hoped to arm such youths with an anticolonial epistemology. Pupils discussed Puerto Rico as a subjugated nation, urban renewal as class warfare from above, and the story of Columbus’s “discovery” of the New World as the propagation of settler mythology. Before the intervention of the Young Lords, one youngster confessed, “I always thought Puerto Ricans had no history or culture.”42

Though “liberation schools” offered formidable models, by the late 1960s the struggle for community control of IS 201 had emerged as Harlem’s main educational battlefront. The IS 201 affair began with the quest for desegregation. Harlem parents had long believed that the presence of white children in local schools would compel officials to upgrade instructional services in the neighborhood. But even militant resistance to segregation had proved futile. When IS 201, a new facility in East Harlem, was unveiled in 1966, parents refused to accept the introduction of another segregated school on the familiar terms of inferior “ghetto education.”43 (For more on the siting and design of IS 201, see chapter 8 of this volume.)

Adopting a fresh approach, activists demanded that IS 201 become a test case in local control. Boycotts, sit-ins, and other pressure tactics forced the city to concede. In 1968 a twenty-one-member governing board of parents, educators, and other local representatives formed to oversee the “Schomburg complex” or “I.S. 201 Complex,” a four-thousand-student entity comprising IS 201 and its feeder elementary schools.44 IS 201 had become a prototype of community control in an urban context.

Much has been written about the IS 201 struggle and the urban community-control movement it precipitated.45 In chapter 8 of this volume, Marta Gutman examines the school’s architecture to explain what prompted activism there, and to document how activists reclaimed the space of the building. The campaign at IS 201 should also be viewed in the context of the local thrust for alternative establishments. Several organizers of Harlem’s past and future autonomous institutions converged in the IS 201 affair. (The former OAAU Liberation School coordinator James E. Campbell, for example, served as an IS 201 assistant principal.) And though the East Harlem “demonstration district” evolved within the framework of public education, the effort embodied many of the principles that guided experimental models. As IS 201 Governing Board member Babette Edwards later asserted, the Schomburg Complex (also called at times the IS 201 Complex) reflected a desire “to build an alternative structure of our own outside the system.”46

From the beginning, the Governing Board and its supporters envisioned a radical departure from conventional schooling. They hoped to embody institutionally the seemingly paradoxical concept of “quality education in the ghetto,” feeling that they could ill afford what Edwards called “the loss of another generation of children” while seeking desegregation.47 An East Harlem mother had echoed a familiar integrationist refrain when she told a citywide task force on poverty in 1966 that “the [educational] system as it is now deprives Negroes, Puerto Ricans, and Whites of a chance to get to know and appreciate each other’s backgrounds.”48 By 1968, however, few local activists wished to further petition a remote Board of Education for reforms that never seemed to materialize. Now they resolved to create new models themselves.

Doing so meant harnessing the creative impulses of alternative education. The Governing Board pursued standard amenities such as a modern, updated curriculum and a fully equipped library. Yet it also attempted to reimagine the entire community-school relationship. The Schomburg Complex would not function as a colonial outpost—another impenetrable agency governed from afar. Instead its campuses would become vibrant centers of culture and recreation. The schools hosted community meetings and “black awareness” events, including Harlem Repertory Theatre productions. Kweli, a Spanish-English community newspaper with a crusading, race-conscious spirit, was published within the complex. The cluster of campuses even officially observed Malcolm X’s birthday on May 19, thereby sanctifying an occasion that had been celebrated only in informal ceremonies—if at all.49

Of course, the chief innovations of the Schomburg Complex were curricular. For years Harlem activists had demanded teaching materials that acknowledged the “contribution of cultural groups.” This approach rested on a paradigm of “accepting difference” that implicitly accepted white subjectivity—the presumptive norm against which minority existence was to be cast. The rise of Black Power, however, had revitalized assertions of Black and Puerto Rican autonomy. The expressed goal of curricular reform shifted from mere inclusion to the fulfillment of more cogent and affirming theories of Afro-American history. Embracing this cultural imperative, the IS 201 Governing Board adopted an array of programs in Black and Puerto Rican studies. The administrative body developed a Community Education Center and an African-Hispanic History and Culture Institute designed to correct “prevailing images of African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexican Americans.”50

The Third World sensibilities of such initiatives also shaped the complex’s bilingual education program. Parents had long complained about the neglect of Spanish-speaking students in Harlem schools. When they inquired about the academic progress of such children, however, they had been scolded for failing to speak English at home.51 By contrast, the Schomburg Complex attempted to honor the whole linguistic and cultural identity of its students. Bilingual classes, still rare in New York City at the time, included exploration of the Taino Indian and African roots of Puerto Rican culture, as well as discussion of Spanish colonialism and American imperialism. Students sang Puerto Rico’s anthem (La Borinqueña) in Spanish. They traced links between African and Puerto Rican dance styles and culinary habits.52 In short, they received a cosmopolitan and culturally relevant education at a time when Cold War ideals and white supremacy still governed much of schooling and American life.

Despite these accomplishments, activists had hoped for more. The Governing Board complained that it had never been granted full control of the complex. As early as 1968, some of its members declared that they were “being used to make black and Puerto Rican people all over this city believe that society is concerned about the education of their children.”53 Endowed with limited authority, local administrators had been unable to meet fully the raised expectations of parents, teachers, and students. Bickering and recrimination among educators only exacerbated the chaos that beset the intermediate school. Amid mounting strife, Babette Edwards, David Spencer, and other key members of the Governing Board resigned.54

Even with these limitations, community control drew powerful opposition from the teachers union, Board of Education, and local political establishment. After only three years, the demonstration districts were effectively mothballed, absorbed into the weakened democracy of “decentralization” by 1970. Now school governance operated on a smaller geographic scale. Crucial fiscal and personnel decisions remained in the hands of the central board, with local administrators relegated to a subordinate role. The new governance structures subverted the robust vision of community control that had motivated the IS 201 experiment.

Symbolically and otherwise, however, the IS 201 struggle was quite significant. In many respects, Harlem’s quest for control of its schools marked the apex of Black and Puerto Rican consciousness in the community. The Governing Board had rejected what it saw as ingrained assumptions about the antisocial nature of poor children of color. It had moved to ban the word Negro from local classrooms and to combat racial stigma by elevating African-descended people to the dignified status of “Afro-Americans.” Most of all, it had demonstrated that indigenous experimentation could lead to the creation of new and democratic structures. As the Harlem parent and Governing Board chairman David Spencer proclaimed, “Direct community participation in the operation of the public schools is our right as Black and Puerto Rican people in this land.”55

The Death and Life of Community Education

The demise of the IS 201 demonstration district was demoralizing enough in itself. “We are beginning to understand what it must have been like after Reconstruction, when the Jim Crow laws destroyed the few liberties Black southerners had achieved after the Civil War,” Spencer wrote in 1969.56 Yet even then, another debacle was looming. The contemporary battle against the construction of the Harlem State Office Building (SOB) further highlighted both the appeal of grassroots theories of education and the powerful resistance such outlooks encountered.

The people’s campaign against the SOB escalated in 1968. It was then that many Harlemites learned that plans were being completed to erect a large office building for New York State agencies and other interests on 125th Street and Seventh Avenue. Supporters of the redevelopment project argued that the initiative would bring jobs and economic vitality to the community. But many residents saw the proposed building as an intrusion that would benefit elites and displace people of color and their cultural institutions. (Lewis Michaux and his historic bookstore had already been ousted to make way for the construction project.) Those who viewed the SOB as a harbinger of gentrification ridiculed Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s suggestion that the edifice would stand as a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr., who had been assassinated in April 1968. “King had planned a Poor People’s March,” one observer noted. “What the Governor has given us is a Rich People’s March—right through the ghetto.”57

By early 1969 the SOB construction site had spawned a vigorous opposition movement. Meanwhile, a broad-based coalition of Harlem organizations promoted alternative plans for the plot. Though proposals for a day-care center and medical facilities emerged, the call for the creation of a public high school—possibly named in honor of Malcolm X—remained a rallying point. Because Central Harlem lacked such a public institution (the last one had closed with Wadleigh’s conversion to a junior high school in 1954, as detailed in chapter 3 of this volume), thousands of local youths were forced to travel great distances every day, journeying north or south in Manhattan or the Bronx simply to get an education. Securing a new high school appeared to be the logical next step on the path to community control. As one Harlem mother proclaimed during a public hearing on the SOB issue, “The only way for us to protect our children is to arm them with the necessary education—taught and controlled by the Black community.”58

By now the concept of regenerating Harlem’s social infrastructure from below had become almost axiomatic. Those who envisioned a truly relevant local high school drew from a pool of democratic ideals established through years of struggle. The Committee for a Harlem High School, a group of local organizers, professionals, and everyday residents, pictured an institution in which students graded themselves, planned their own classes, and worked with community groups for academic credit. The U.S. schoolhouse, the organization declared, “can no longer stand as the bastard offspring of a racist society, remote and separate from the community.”59 Another vision for the structure came from Charles F. Gordon, a playwright associated with Harlem’s Black Theatre Workshop. Gordon imagined a cultural center featuring a library, child-care services, and a school for ages 3 to 103, “staffed from top to bottom with conscientious Black educators.”60

What Harlem ultimately received was not an educational marvel but a towering symbol of its own subjugation. In the months after the last protesters were driven from the excavation site, the SOB rose above the 125th Street junction where Malcolm X had once delivered his mesmerizing harangues. Not everyone had supported Harlem’s campaign to “reclaim” the contested plot of land. Figures such as CORE’s Roy Innis, the increasingly conservative leader who had once authored a plan to establish a separate Harlem school district, embraced the tales of capitalist development spun by SOB boosters. “You wouldn’t want to build a high school on Times Square or Wall Street,” he maintained, “and this [125th Street] is our Wall Street.”61 For Harlem’s rank-and-file organizers, however, the state building’s completion in 1973 marked a sobering defeat. The edifice, one writer predicted, would loom over Harlem “like a gun turret in a maximum security prison.”62

Of course, some Harlemites refused to relinquish notions of emancipatory education. The local icon Audley “Queen Mother” Moore never abandoned the quest for alternative schools. A septuagenarian by the 1960s, Moore had labored for decades within a host of social movements. She had championed Pan-Africanism, socialism, tenant rights, and reparations for slavery, always maintaining a distinctly Black nationalist worldview. In the 1960s she remained a fervent supporter of Black consciousness causes. She agitated for African American principals in Harlem schools, memorialized Malcolm X, and backed both the IS 201 struggle and the campaign against the SOB.63

Born in 1898, in New Iberia, Louisiana, Moore had left school after the fourth grade. Yet she harbored a firm belief in the redemptive power of education. The veteran activist argued that many public schools damaged African American children academically and culturally. But in her view, the crisis ran much deeper than that. Moore felt that Black people would never be free until they repudiated the social identity imposed on them by the majority culture. The process of reconditioning was to begin with emphatic rejection of the term Negro. As she explained in 1968, “We were brought over here as Africans, then denatured, dehumanized and turned into Negroes.”64

Moore imagined an independent school that could stimulate a collective transformation of consciousness. She and her sister, Loretta Langley, hoped to establish the Eloise Moore College of African Studies (the name honored yet another sibling) on twenty-five acres of their spacious farmland estate in the Catskills region of Upstate New York. Dubbed “Mount Addis Ababa,” the Parksville, New York, property was to serve as a citadel of racial awareness. Moore and Langley envisaged it as the site of a crusade against “oppression psychoneurosis,” the syndrome Moore believed plagued African-descended people. The college, she maintained, would provide a place “where people could come to us from all over the world to be de-colonized and de-Negroized.”65

The institution was to play a more concrete role, as well. Moore and Langley wished to equip poor and working-class Black youths with “skills that automation could not erase,” thus combating the forces that were reducing many Black Americans to lives of precariousness within an army of reserve labor. The desire to impart such expertise—from soil conservation to poultry-rearing—also reflected a long-standing Pan-African goal of sending technicians to Africa to assist in the development of postcolonial states.66

Moore sustained the dream of a school at Mount Addis Ababa throughout the 1960s as she toiled on behalf of the Republic of New Africa and her own organization, the Universal Association of Ethiopian Women. The institution evolved in her mind’s eye even as she participated in Harlem’s Conference for Quality Education (she spoke on “The Danger of Miseducation Among Our Children”) and joined an occupation of the New York City Board of Education’s meeting hall in 1966. However, the Eloise Moore College of African Studies never materialized. New York City schoolchildren occasionally visited Mount Addis Ababa to plant crops and engage in survivalist exercises, and activists gathered there for political summits. Intelligence agents duly monitored these activities as part of the government campaign against Black militants. But no physical campus emerged to embody Moore’s contention that “Negro” was simply “a state of mind” that could be exchanged for a more empowering subjectivity.67

Beset with financial problems, Mount Addis Ababa fell into disrepair in the 1970s. Moore, however, clung to her visions of autonomous education. Her concept of an establishment “totally embracing the cultural, educational and industrial needs” of Black people proved remarkably resilient.68 Indeed, comparable ideals had inspired an array of educational efforts in Harlem during a period of intense mobilization.

Space prohibits a full account of the range of local establishments that strove to cultivate Black and Puerto Rican identity. Those Harlemites not served by the institutions mentioned above might have attended “master liberation workshops” at the National Black Theatre on 125th Street; learned African and African American history at the Afro Arts Cultural Center on 134th Street; or studied Yoruba, Kiswahili, and Spanish at Our School, a Pan-Africanist outfit on 117th Street.69 Between the eruption of the Harlem street rebellion of 1964 and the completion of the State Office Building in 1973, these and other autonomous enterprises attempted to provide academic training as well as something akin to what the Nation of Islam called “knowledge of self”—the ability to comprehend one’s past, to engage one’s present, and to pursue a future free from exploitation.

Viewing Harlem’s educational landscape as an alternative infrastructure enables us to appreciate the social geography of community resistance. Harlem was never merely the locus of an inescapable “urban crisis.” It was also the site of a radical public sphere, a place where wisdom about domination and struggle flowed through multiple, intersecting channels. Similarly, the neighborhood’s indigenous educational ventures were neither dens of extremism nor vehicles for the narrow pursuit of professional status. Rather, they were expressions of collective desire for true dignity and cultural citizenship. Today, when careerism and mercenary values govern the ethos of learning at practically all levels of schooling, we would do well to revive such humanist impulses.

The author wishes to thank Rachel Klepper for research assistance with portions of this essay.

Previous: Chapter 8 Next: Chapter 10

  1. “Visions of Harlem,” manuscript, n.d., box 7, folder 24, Lawrence Neal papers, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library (hereafter Schomburg); (hereafter LNP). ↩︎

  2. Ray Rogers, “Harlem of Yesteryear is No More,” New York Times, June 12, 1969, B1; and Kenneth B. Clark, Dark Ghetto: Dilemmas of Social Power (New York: Harper and Row, 1965). ↩︎

  3. For more on grassroots activism and the quest for Black self-determination in Harlem, see Garrett Felber, “‘Harlem Is the Black World’: The Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Grassroots,” Journal of African-American History 100 (2015): 199–225. ↩︎

  4. HARYOU, Youth in the Ghetto: A Study of the Consequences of Powerlessness and a Blueprint for Change (New York: Author, 1964), 237. ↩︎

  5. Adina Back, “Exposing the Whole Segregation Myth: The Harlem Nine and New York City’s School Desegregation Battles,” in Freedom North: Black Freedom Struggles Outside the South, 1940–1980, ed. Jeanne Theoharis and Komozi Woodard (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 65–92. ↩︎

  6. This essay complements existing works that focus on struggles in Harlem’s public schools, including William H. Watkins, “A Marxian and Radical Reconstructionist Critique of American Education: Searching Out Black Voices,” in Black Protest Thought and Education, ed. William Henry Watkins (New York: Peter Lang, 2005), 107–36; Martha Biondi, To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003), 241–49; Jennifer de Forest, “The 1958 Harlem School Boycott: Parental Activism and the Struggle for Educational Equity in New York City,” Urban Review 40 (2008): 21–41; Adina Back, “Up South in New York: The 1950s School Desegregation Struggles” (PhD diss., New York University, 1997); and Hasan Kwame Jeffries and Patrick D. Jones, “Desegregating New York: The Case of the ‘Harlem Nine,’” OAH Magazine of History 26 (2012): 51–53. ↩︎

  7. For a related discussion, see Russell Rickford, We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). ↩︎

  8. HARYOU, Youth in the Ghetto, 165. ↩︎

  9. Transcript of Jesse Gray keynote address to the Federation for Independent Political Action Conference, December 1964, box 2, folder 9; and Josephine Buck Jones to Lyndon B. Johnson, April 7, 1964, box 10, folder 10, Babette Edwards Education Reform in Harlem Collection, Schomburg (hereafter BEERHC). ↩︎

  10. “Harlem Parents Support Boycott,” New York Times, January 22, 1964, 28. ↩︎

  11. “East Harlem Project” statement, June 1964, box 18, folder 10, Preston Wilcox Papers, Schomburg (hereafter PWP); Preston Wilcox to Berlin Kelly, July 27, 1970, box 5, folder 6, BEERHC; and Isaiah Robinson, “Educational Determinism,” Liberation, September 1968, 27. ↩︎

  12. Patricia Albjerg Graham, “Educating the City’s Children,” box 54, folder 9, Ewart Guinier Papers, Schomburg; and David X. Spencer Press Release, May 21, 1970, box 9, folder 7, BEERHC. ↩︎

  13. “Wig Salon Opens New Harlem Shop,” New York Amsterdam News, August 17, 1963, 42; “African Bazaar Muslims 369th Armory,” 1963 flyer, box 11, folder 5, Malcolm X Papers, Schomburg (hereafter MXP); Thomas A. Johnson, “Black Nationalists Gain More Attention in Harlem,” New York Times, July 13, 1966, 1, 29; Earl Caldwell, “African Influence Thriving in Harlem,” New York Times, March 12, 1968, 45; “African Courses at Yoruba Temple,” New York Amsterdam News, November 3, 1962, 32; and Dear Co-Worker letter, n.d., ca. March 1962, box 5, folder 81, Richard B. Moore Papers, Schomburg. ↩︎

  14. Lawrence Neal, “Black Power/Liberation,” manuscript, n.d., box 6, folder 15, LNP. ↩︎

  15. “Hear Dr. Lewis Henri Micheaux’s Philosophy,” pamphlet, n.d., box 23, folder 25, Universal Negro Improvement Association Records, Manuscript Archives and Rare Book Library, Emory University. ↩︎

  16. John Henrik Clarke, “The New Afro-American Nationalism,” Freedomways (Fall 1961): 288; “Lewis Michaux: The World’s Greatest Seller of Black Books,” Third World, November 3, 1972, 13; “Lewis Michaux: I Advocated Going Back to Africa,” Third World, November 24, 1972, 7, 11; “Lewis Michaux: The World’s Greatest Seller of Black Books,” Third World, December 8, 1972, 13; and “Lewis Michaux: The World’s Greatest Seller of Black Books,” Third World, December 22, 1972, 12. ↩︎

  17. Theodore 4X and Hattie 2X to Brother Minister Malcolm X, October 12, 1962, box 11, folder 11; University of Islam materials, box 11, folder 3 “Plans for Youth Training Program”; and “ABC of Divine Knowledge,” box 11, folder 11, MXP. ↩︎

  18. “Black Muslims in Harlem Build on Racial Pride and Prosperity,” New York Times, January 13, 1969, 44; “The Nation of Islam: Education and Enterprise,” news clipping, box 33, folder 7, BEERHC; Charlayne Hunter, “Muslim Center Blends Business, School and Mosque,” New York Times, August 25, 1970, 38; Lesly Jones, “Muslim Teaching Makes Impact on Harlem,” New York Amsterdam News, August 29, 1970, 1, 43; Naomi Tucker, “Muslims’ Progress, a New Image,” New York Amsterdam News, April 29, 1972, 10; and Thomas A. Johnson, “Minister and Mosque Have History of Dependability,” New York Times, April 15, 1972, 16. ↩︎

  19. University of Islam materials, box 11, folder 3, MXP. ↩︎

  20. “Organization of Afro-American Unity Statement of Basic Aims and Objectives,” July 1964, box 14, folder 1, MXP. See also William W. Sales, From Civil Rights to Black Liberation: Malcolm X and the Organization of Afro-American Unity (Boston: South End Press, 1994). ↩︎

  21. Diane C. Fujino, Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005), 148–49; and “Board of Education Tokenism,” OAAU Backlash, November 9, 1964, box 14, folder 7, MXP. ↩︎

  22. The OAAU Liberation School was one of the first formations in the country to use the liberation school moniker. See Transcript of June 22, 1970, Robert Wright Interview with Herman Ferguson, Ralph J. Bunche Collection, Moorland-Spingarn Research Collection (hereafter MSRC). ↩︎

  23. Transcript of May 3, 1965, letter to “Dear Brothers and Sisters,” Black Arts Repertory Theater/School FBI File, F. B. Eyes Digital Archive, accessed April 29, 2017. ↩︎

  24. Michael Stern, “Police Look Into Harlem Racists,” New York Times, March 18, 1966, 18; and “The War Within the War,” Time, May 13, 1966, 33. ↩︎

  25. “U.S. Cash Aids Negro Spiel of White Hatred,” Chicago Tribune, December 1, 1965, B4; and Harold Cruse, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (New York: New York Review of Books, 2005), 440. ↩︎

  26. Hollie West, “Negro Poet Whips Up Hate in Harlem ‘Black Arts’ Body,” news clipping, n.d., Black Arts Repertory Theater/School FBI File, F. B. Eyes Digital Archive, accessed April 29, 2017. ↩︎

  27. “Who Does What and Why in the Black Panther” Pamphlet, n.d., box 1, folder 7, Black Panther Party Harlem Branch Papers, Schomburg (hereafter BPPHBP). ↩︎

  28. “Unite for Black Power!” flyer, 1966, box 1, folder 8; “Read About the Black Panther and Black Power” flyer, n.d., box 1, folder 9; and George M. Miller to “Dear Brothers and Sisters,” August 20, 1966, box 1, folder 8, BPPHBP. ↩︎

  29. “Minutes of Document Committee Meeting, November 16, 1967,” box 9, folder 14, Annie Stein Papers, Rare Book and Manuscripts, Columbia University (hereafter ASP); and “Harlem CORE Nearer to Goal of Independent Harlem School System,” September 1967 Press Release, box 29, folder 17, BEERHC. ↩︎

  30. Harlem CORE, “A Proposal for an Independent Board of Education for Harlem,” March 1967, box 162, folder 7, United Federation of Teachers; Roy Innis and Victor Solomon to “Dear Citizen of Harlem,” September 16, 1967, box 29, folder 17, BEERHC. ↩︎

  31. Carl Rachlin, “CORE and the Schools,” ca. 1965, box 32, folder 8, BEERHC; Roy Innis to “Dear Friend,” July 1969, box 3, folder 8; and Civil Rights Documentation Project Vertical File, MSRC. ↩︎

  32. Harlem CORE, “A Proposal for an Independent Board of Education for Harlem,” March 1967, box 162, folder 7, United Federation of Teachers Records, Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University (hereafter Tamiment); (hereafter UFTR). ↩︎

  33. Doris Ullman to Annie Stein, n.d., box 9, folder 14, ASP. ↩︎

  34. Roy Innis and Victor Solomon, “Harlem Must Control Its Schools,” New Generation (Fall 1967): 4–5. ↩︎

  35. Robert L. Allen, “Harlem Youngsters Boycott P.S. 125, Study on Own: ‘Liberation Schools’: Parent Power?” National Guardian, March 25, 1967; and “SOS: Save Our Students,” PS 125–36 Parent/Community Committee flyer, 1967, box 160, folder 4, UFTR. ↩︎

  36. Preston Wilcox, “Teaching and Caring: One Teacher in Action,” unpublished essay, box 32, folder 14, BEERHC; Leonard Buder, “Boycott Keeps 1,450 Out of School in Harlem,” New York Times, March 14, 1967, 49; and “S.O.S.” 1967 West Harlem Liberation School flyer and attached materials, box 160, folder 4, UFTR. ↩︎

  37. “Teacher’s Guide,” 1967, box 32, folder 14, BEERHC; and “Riverside Special,” “Discussion Guide for Upper Grades and High School,” 1967, box 31, folder 8, BEERHC. ↩︎

  38. Lois Prager, “PS 125 Boycott Involves 1700 Pupils,” Columbia Daily Spectator, March 14, 1967, 1, 3; Preston Wilcox, “The ‘Educated’ and the ‘Unlettered,’” unpublished essay, box 12, folder 1, PWP. ↩︎

  39. Preston Wilcox, “The ‘Educated’ and the ‘Unlettered,’” unpublished essay, box 12, folder 1, PWP. ↩︎

  40. “Support the People’s Church” January 1969 flyer, box 5, folder 8, Christiane C. Collins Collection, Schomburg. ↩︎

  41. “Support the People’s Church” January 1969 flyer, box 5, folder 8, Christiane C. Collins Collection, Schomburg. ↩︎

  42. El pueblo se levanta, Video (New York Third World Newsreel, 1970). ↩︎

  43. Babette Edwards, “A Review and Analysis of Three Educational Strategies for Positive Change in the Public School System of the City of New York,” box 39, folder 2, and “Brief History of the Community Control Struggle,” box 2, folder 3, BEERHC. ↩︎

  44. Preston Wilcox, “To Be Black and to Be Successful,” February 1966, box 9, folder 5, and Proposal for I.S. 201 Complex Governing Board, 1967, box 5, folder 1, BEERHC. ↩︎

  45. See, for example, Daniel H. Perlstein, Justice, Justice: School Politics and the Eclipse of Liberalism (New York: Peter Lang, 2004); and Diane Ravitch, The Great School Wars: A History of the New York City Public Schools (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), 192–211. ↩︎

  46. Babette Edwards, “A Review and Analysis of Three Educational Strategies for Positive Change in the Public School System of the City of New York,” 47, box 39, folder 2, BEERHC. ↩︎

  47. “Minutes of Second Negotiation Session of Parents, Community Representatives, and Board of Education Concerning Intermediate School 201,” September 1966, box 2, folder 5; and E. Babette Edwards, Statement to “Equal Achievement in Schools,” Conference, April 18, 1966, box 32, folder 8, BEERHC. ↩︎

  48. “CBS Testimony Before Lindsay Task Force on Poverty,” January 1966, box 36, folder 19, BEERHC. ↩︎

  49. “Demands of Parents and Community to Make I.S. 201 a Model School,” box 3, folder 13, BEERHC; 1970 I.S. 201 Complex Position Paper, box 9, folder 7, BEERHC; “Black Awareness: Malcolm X Memorial Service” flyer, 1969, box 6, folder 20, BEERHC; “I.S. 201 Complex Unit Administrator’s Calendar,” February 15–February 28, 1969, box 1, folder 20, BEERHC; and “El Hajj Malik El Shabazz,” Kweli, June 1969, box 6, folder 9, BEERHC. ↩︎

  50. “Proposal for Massive Economic Neighborhood Development,” October 1964, box 20, Folder 8, Preston Wilcox Papers, Schomburg; and “African-Hispanic History and Culture Institute,” box 1, folder 1, BEERHC. ↩︎

  51. “Statement by Gilberto Gerena Valentin at Public Hearing on Proposed Grade Reorganization of New York City School System,” March 1966, box 32, folder 8, BEERHC. ↩︎

  52. Angela Gilliam to Berlin Kelley, March 11, 1970, box 1, folder 6, BEERHC; “Folklore Festival,” Kweli, May 1970, box 6, folder 10, BEERHC; and “The Idea of Freedom and the Puerto Rican,” and “Discovery of Puerto Rico,” box 9, folder 11, BEERHC. ↩︎

  53. I.S. 201 Governing Board, “Position Paper,” Liberation, September 1968, 30. ↩︎

  54. Lesly Jones, “IS 201 Parent Dispute Rages On,” New York Amsterdam News, May 1, 1971, 1; Babette Edwards and Hannah Brockington to Dave Spencer, February 5, 1971, box 3, folder 10, ASP; and Martin Arnold, “2 on I.S. 201 Board Resign in Protest,” New York Times, March 9, 1971, 44. ↩︎

  55. Isaiah Robinson, “Educational Determinism,” Liberation, September 1968, 27–28; David Spencer to Preston Wilcox, October 14, 1968, 10, 11, BEERHC; and Dave Spencer, “School Strike: A Parent’s View,” Harlem News, October 1967. ↩︎

  56. David Spencer Press Release, April 30, 1969, box 24, folder 6, Isaiah Robinson Files, deries 378, Board of Education of the City of New York Collection, Municipal Archives of the City of New York (hereafter BOE, MA). ↩︎

  57. “The Site and the Scene,” Kweli, July 1970, 5, box 3, folder 11, BEERHC; Daniel H. Watts, “Rockefeller’s Negroes,” Liberator, June 1967, 3; and Barbara Butler, “Gov. Rockefeller’s Plan For Harlem Removal,” Liberator, May 1968, 11. ↩︎

  58. Harlem Committee for Self-Defense, “Don’t Let Them Destroy Harlem!” flyer, ca. 1969, box 54, folder 13, John O’Neal Papers, Amistad Research Center; Architects’ Renewal Committee in Harlem, “The Case for a Harlem High School,” February 1969, box 31, folder 20, BEERHC; “Raping the Children,” Kweli, November 19, 1969, box 6, folder 9, BEERHC; “Reclamation Site! What’s It All About?” North Star, December 1969, box 20, folder “The North Star,” Paul M. Washington Papers, Blockson Collection, Temple University; and “Harlem Group for Self-Defense Seek to Achieve Unity to Save Community,” Muhammad Speaks, December 27, 1968, 12. ↩︎

  59. “New Harlem High School: A Dream Moving Toward Reality,” clipping, box 6, folder 26, ASP; and The Committee for a Harlem High School, “Study Design for a High School Program in Harlem,” 1969, box 31, folder 20, BEERHC. ↩︎

  60. Charles F. Gordon, “Out of Site,” Black Theatre, April 1970, 29–30. ↩︎

  61. Michael T. Kaufman, “CORE Offers Plan for Harlem Site,” New York Times, October 11, 1969, 35. ↩︎

  62. Institute of Afrikan Research, “The S.O.B. in Harlem: Dig on This,” box 15, folder 10, PWP. ↩︎

  63. Minutes of United Federation of Black Community Organizations Meeting, October 7, 1969, box 27, folder 11, BEERHC; M. A. Farber, “Brooklyn Sit-In Bars 2D Hearing by School Board,” New York Times, December 21, 1966, 1, 32; “This is a poem written by Queen Mother Moore,” December 1966, box 35, folder 5, BEERHC; and “The Brothers & Sisters for Afro-Am. Unity,” flyer, ca. 1970, box 35, folder 5, BEERHC. ↩︎

  64. “This is a poem written by Queen Mother Moore,” December 1966, box 35, folder 5, BEERHC; and C. Gerald Fraser, “Negro History Week Stirs Up Semantic Dispute,” New York Times, February 15, 1968, 29. ↩︎

  65. “Activities at Mt. Addis Ababa,” box 1, folder 25, Audley Moore FOIA File, Tamiment (hereafter AMFF); and Interview with Audley (Queen Mother) Moore, June 6 and 8, 1978, Black Women Oral History Project, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College. ↩︎

  66. “The Black Scholar Interviews: Queen Mother Moore,” Black Scholar, March–April 1973, 50. ↩︎

  67. “Harlem Conference for Quality Education” program, December 1966, box 2, folder 9, BEERHC; Victor Reisel “Queen Mother’s Mission: Veteran Communists Organize to Seize Black Power,” December 1968, clipping, box 1, folder 25, AMFF; and Eric Pace, “Queen Mother Moore, 98, Harlem Rights Leader, Dies,” New York Times, May 7, 1997, 15. ↩︎

  68. “The Universal Association of Ethiopian Women, Inc.: A Brief History,” pamphlet, box 23, folder 30, Dabu Gizenga Collection, MSRC. ↩︎

  69. Simon Bly Jr. to Isaiah Robinson, April 13, 1970, box 1, folder 4, Isaiah Robinson Files, BOE, MA; National Black Theatre pamphlets, 1974, box 21, folder 26, Dabu Gizenga Collection, MSRC; and Federation of Pan African Educational Institutions Pamphlet, box 10, folder 13, Ronald W. Walters Papers, MSRC. ↩︎