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The History of Harlem - Cultural Epicenter of America’s Black community

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Over a significant time frame, African Americans have been forced to endure numerous hardships – one of which being the negatives stigmas that unfairly generalize their people, culture and way of life. Therese stereotypes of a whole nationality label Blacks as, “superstitious, lazy, ignorant, dirty, unreliable, (and even) criminal,” (“Stereotypes”). Such generalizations are products of the public’s perception, which has been diluted by rooted historic and current prejudice as well as the media’s conveyance of a well-known African American cultural center: Harlem. Despite negative connotations associated with it, Harlem stands as a community that strives to flourish and maintain its strong cultural status. George Canada, the founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, states, “People think kids are all violent, and they’re all out fighting and shooting. Most of our children want to grow up in a peaceful community where they can live their lives and become successful adults” (“Your City”). Because this area has been subject to consistent historic change, its past is rocky, which accurately mirrors the struggle of the African American people. In order to achieve a better understanding of both the African American community and its cultural hub, it is essential to know the area’s unique cultural history. From Renaissance to riots; drugs wars, violence and poverty, Harlem’s history as the cultural epicenter of America’s Black community may shed some light on the evolution of its current culture, people and stereotypes.
In the 1920s, Harlem, New York had reached a cultural peak; “it became the most famous and influential black American ghetto” (Weisbrot). With the migration of African Americans to the north, Harlem became heavily concentr...


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...l P. "Chapter 9: Harlem Renaissance - A Brief Introduction." A Research and Reference Guide - An Ongoing Project. 2 Feb. 2008. PAL: Perspectives in American Literature. 13 Nov. 2008 .
"Stereotypes of African Americans." Stereotypes of African Americans. June 2008. Wikipedia. 28 Nov. 2008 .
Weisbrot, Robert. "Harlem." Encyclopedia of Urban America. 340-41. Ebooks. OhioLink. Cincinnati. 13 Nov. 2008 .
"Your City, Your News." NY1. New York City. 13 Aug. 2008. Harlem Children Rally Against Gun Violence. 13 Aug. 2008. NY1. 20 Nov. 2008 .


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