For a century, Harlem has been celebrated as the capital of black America, a thriving center of cultural achievement and political action. At a crucial moment in Harlem's history, as gentrification encroaches, Rhodes-Pitts untangles the myth and meaning of Harlem's legacy. Examining the epic Harlem of official history and the personal Harlem that begins at her front door, Rhodes-Pitts introduces us to a wide variety of characters, past and present. At the heart of their stories, and her own, is the hope carried over many generations, hope that Harlem would be the ground from which blacks fully entered America's democracy.
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts is an acclaimed essayist who, like other significant chroniclers of places—Joan Didion on California, or Jamaica Kincaid on Antigua—captures the very essence of her subject.
Leslie Hewitt is a Harlem-based visual artist whose photography, sculpture, and site-specific installations address fluid notions of time. She was included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and exhibitions at MOMA, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and LAXART in Los Angeles.