On the lawn of Gracie Mansion in Manhattan yesterday, politicians, business owners and the Harlem community gathered to celebrate the official kick-off of Harlem Week 2012. This year’s affair marked the 38th anniversary of the event.
After opening remarks by NYC Mayor Michael M. Bloomberg and Harlem Chamber of Commerce president Lloyd Williams followed by a mini-performance of a scene from Broadway’s Porgy & Bess, it was announced that culinary icon Sylvia Woods had passed away just a few hours earlier. Assemblyman Keith Wright and Tim Zagat, publisher of Zagat Restaurant Surveys, shared heartfelt words and asked for a moment of silence to remember the life of the famed Harlem restaurateur. “I’ve been enjoying food from Sylvia’s restaurant, which has been a standout in Harlem, for as long as we’ve been doing reviews,” said Zagat.
Awards were given to, among others, Carib News for its 30th Anniversary and to Sylvia’s Restaurant for its 50th Anniversary. A college-bound student was awarded a scholarship from J.P. Morgan and anti-violence advocate and co-founder of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. Jackie Rowe-Adams received an award from NYC Councilwoman Inez Dickens. Also in attendance were former NY State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and former NYC mayor David N. Dinkins.
The reception served as a prelude to a month-long string of events beginning July 28 centered on this year’s theme: Where the World Meets the World. Some of the highlights planned for this year’s activities include an economic development day; an outdoor screening of the new documentary “Marley”; and “Sunday Classics”, in honor of the late radio legend Hal Jackson.
Harlem Week, an annual celebration that honors the legacy of Harlem both here and abroad, pays homage to the local residents, business owners, politicians and community-at-large that work to preserve Harlem’s rich tradition of the preservation of Black history, culture, religion, arts and entertainment. It began as Harlem Day back in 1974 and has now rolled out to a full month of activities attended by thousands of people from all over the world.
And in the spirit of promoting local businesses in the community, the food for the reception was provided exclusively by Harlem eateries Tonnie’s Minis, Billie’s Black and Red Rooster, just to name a few.