The excitement is building as we approach the annual HARLEM WEEK 2018, which will be held July 29-August 25, 2018. What originally began 44 years ago as a one-week tribute to one of the most culturally-rich neighborhoods in the world has now become a month-long celebration that prides itself on being the connecting thread between individuals, the community, businesses and the arts. The event draws millions of people from throughout New York and from around the world and includes an international cultural showcase; an education and career conference for youth, and an entrepreneur summit.
This year’s theme is “Women Transforming Our World: Past, Present and Future” and the event will acknowledge 44 women whose work and contributions have had a transformative impact on us all. I had the privilege of serving on the committee that recommended the honorees, who represent a broad range of generations and fields of endeavor. In the arts and entertainment category, honorees include Misty Copeland, principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre; Judith Jamison, Artistic Director Emerita of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; the late Ella Fitzgerald, “The First Lady of Song; the late Ruby Dee, actor, playwright and poet, and Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar-winning actress and featured star of Marvel’s Black Panther movie.
HARLEM WEEK also will celebrate “Our Community within a Community,” highlighting Harlem’s LGBTQ heritage. The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce is paying tribute to the significant role the LGBTQ community played in Harlem’s world-renowned legacy of music, art, theater and literature, and its continuing contributions to and inspiration for today’s social justice movements. The salute will include tributes to many renowned LGBTQ voices, including Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Ma Rainey and James Baldwin.
I believe HARLEM WEEK is the premiere showcase of arts and cultural festivals because it offers more than performances, vendors and entertainment. The Chamber, which actively promotes and supports Harlem’s cultural life, recognizes that without solid ties between the business, political, educational and cultural sectors, a community cannot thrive. The arts are more than fun—they are part of a broader root system that makes a community strong. Thank you, HARLEM WEEK, for demonstrating not only what is possible, but also providing us with a great example of success!