I have been riding public transportation since the age of 12. Aside from being a wonderful opportunity to people watch, public transportation is great for popping your ear buds in and jamming out to the soundtrack of your life. When my learning community (Hi LC 1!) and another learning community (LC 10) ventured to Harlem this week, I had a subway playlist ready to go.
Our learning community focuses on immigration populations and how they impacted New York City. When I heard our LC was venturing to Harlem, I was beyond thrilled. I’ve grown up listening to classic jazz, much of which emerged during the Harlem Renaissance. So Cab Calloway’s "Minnie the Moocher" filed my ears all the way to 135th street.
Now I know I just threw a lot of information your way very quickly. You might be saying, “Megan! What on earth is the Harlem Renaissance? Who is Cab Calloway?” Oh my dear readers I am happy you are interested, but throwing all these questions at me won’t help me finish my story. I will answer all your questions in due time. If this is not fast or detailed enough I suggest Google.
If you are finished throwing all these questions at me, I will continue. The Harlem Renaissance is an amazing part of New York’s history. Harlem, like much of New York City, has been a destination for immigrants. In the early 1900s, Harlem experienced a great migration of African Americans coming from the South. Soon it became know as an almost exclusively African American neighborhood. Around 1919, a boom of theater, music and literary works emerged, introducing some of the greatest thinkers and artists the world has ever seen. This movement has continued to be a driving force throughout Harlem, and continues to inspire the great minds of today.
My professors, peers and I made our way to the Schomburg Center, home of some of the most important articles and artifacts on African American culture. From murals painted by the Works Progress Administration to Langston Hughes’ ashes, this treasure trove of history is not to be missed.
Wandering throughout Harlem is a unique experience. We came upon a variety of churches, took an excursion into a historic brownstone that was under construction and eventually settled down for a meal.
Harlem is another fine example of all the wonderful things to uncover in the Big Apple. So pop in those ear buds, grab a metro card and explore.
Megan’s Suggested Playlist
- "Minnie the Moocher" (Cab Calloway)
- "Summertime" (Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong)
- "Autumn in New York" (Ella Fitzgerald OR Billie Holiday)
- "Midnight Sun" (Carmen McRae)
- "Take the A Train" (Duke Ellington)
- "I Get a Kick Out of You" (Ella Fitzgerald)
- "‘Round Midnight" (Thelonious Monk)
- "One O’clock Jump" (Count Bassie and his Orchestra)
- "Easy Living" (Billie Holiday)
- "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" (Louie Armstrong)