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Reasons to Love New York 2015

Because This Place Has Been Showing How Black Lives Matter for 90 Years

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A First Fridays party in the Schomburg Center courtyard.  

For some, Harlem’s Schomburg Center is simply their local New York Public Library. But it’s also where you could have heard, recently, a lecture on Nat Turner, a scholarly discussion of the Young Lords Party (a Puerto Rican nationalist group), or a conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates. The library, around since 1925, also functions like a museum, with rotating exhibitions — next up, “Black Suburbia: From Levittown to Ferguson” and “Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination” — meant to introduce visitors to the center’s vast collection of art, film, and rare books and manuscripts. There’s also a gift shop filled with books by James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Maya Angelou — as well as everything else that can be black: posters of African art, a Kwanzaa kinara, an Aretha Franklin CD. And there are, of course, Black Lives Matter T-shirts. It’s all a physical reminder — one I’ve lately sought out more and more — that the current political movement is built on a legacy that’s both deep and wide.


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