Many Cultures, One Neighborhood: A Fulbright Adventure to Harlem

On a sunny day in early May, Visiting Fulbright Scholars and their families located in the greater New York City area trekked to a famous neighborhood in their host city. Although not publicly known for tourism, Harlem proved to be a rewarding and unique area to visit.

Tour guide, Anthony Bowman, answering the scholar’s questions after the church service

Tour guide, Anthony Bowman, answering the scholar’s questions after the church service

The group was guided by a specialist in African-American history through the vibrant streets of Harlem. Beginning at the famous Apollo Theater, Fulbrighters learned about events such as the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance. Eventually the scholars landed at their midway destination, the First Corinthians Baptist Church, where they listened to beautiful Gospel hymns and listened in to a service on the need for justice in the black community. Reverend Lekisha related this necessity to the social unrest unraveling in Baltimore.

Scholars and their families walking down 116th Street in Harlem

Scholars and their families walking down 116th Street in Harlem

After the moving experience at the church, the group toured a part of Harlem known as “Little Africa,” named for the presence of West African immigrants. In this area, scholars passed the mosque Masjid Malcom Shabazz, where they seized the opportunity to discuss Malcom X’s philosophy of unifying Muslims from all cultural backgrounds.

Anthony talking about the evolution of Jazz

Anthony talking about the evolution of Jazz

At the end of the outing, scholars were treated to discover American “soul food,” with delicious samplings such as fried chicken, candied yams, macaroni & cheese, and sweet tea. Overall, scholars were amazed at how safe and lively the streets of Harlem were, which is typically stereotyped as a poor and dangerous neighborhood of the city.

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