JULY 2007



Rally today, Saturday at 4PM at MARCUS GARVEY PARK @ 5th Avenue at 124th street side. Our new White "neighbors" have decided that we should not be allowed to practice our culture. They also want to change the name of the park from Marcus Gavey Park back to Mt. Morris Park.  If you agree with them, stay home.                                                                         Kwame         

Whenever in Harlem, we go to the park where we can hear the drums. It's part of our culture. I am trying not to be angry but this further attempt to disrespect our traditions makes my blood rise. Please pass the word.

for immediate release
Marcus Garvey Park Drummers,
July 2 2007
Sat June 30 two white police officers approached drummers at 5th Ave Marcus Garvey park, at about 7:30pm, stating that they received complaints about the drumming being to loud.

Two spokes persons, a man and woman, from the drummers organization told the officers, 'We have been drumming every week until nine p.m. for the last thirty years ', They asked the officers why were they coming now when it was only 7:30pm. The officers responded that the residents at 2005 5th Ave (across the street) had complained that the drumming was too loud. The drummers said “We will continue until 9 pm”.

The policemen then called for reinforcement, when a car with a bar officer came , the drummers spokesperson continued along the lines of their right to drum, “it's our culture from Africa and the Caribbean” One women drummer said about the white residents. 'They have forced Black people out of Harlem to move here, they knew that we drum here every week, if they don't want to hear the drumming they should move”

Still another police car came, this time with lights, and about nine policemen. With the drummers, women, children and men around eighty people, the drummers resisted their position and continued to drum, while an assigned spokesperson talked to police offers.

Across the street at Fifth Ave condo (124) the four white residents watched while the struggle continued. The drummers, dancers and crowd took out their cellphones and video cameras recording. After 25 minutes the police backed down and the drummers drummed louder as a protest and message to the white residents that they will fight for their African culture.

letter from Kwame:

As to that. I got the notice that morning also, and forwarded it right away. The crowd was good, but the drummers seem to be willing to settle for another space in the park that is 1) Secluded and possibly dangerous to those coming to see them 2) very high up on the steps behind the amphitheatre, a climb that could give many above 40, a heart attact, 3) although "guaranteed", they will have to move if there is an event in the amphitheatre and have to go even further up to the Bell Tower.  

State Senator Bill Perkins brokered a deal with the Parks Dept, in which they would spend money on the area by putting benches there, and a plaque noting "Drummers Circle" (that might not be the actual title) which they seem to be in favor of accepting. They say that "all they want to do is drum", overlooking the other issues of "self determination" that are involved and are of issue throughout Harlem and the city. They are not particularly politically concious. I advised them to push for more, even if they finally accept that space.

These "new neighbors" are trying to change the name of Marcus Garvey Park back to Mt. Morris Park, and we got wind through policians that they also want to change the name of Malcolm X Boulevard back to Lenox Ave. I proposed that part of any agreement must be that there be no change of the name of the park, it MUST remain Marcus Garvey Park and that the community arts groups (National Conference of Artists and the Harlem Arts Alliance) be allowed to raise funds privately to select an artist to create a sculpture of Marcus Garvey for the Park. NCA, the oldest (48 years old) continuously operating Black visual arts organization, in touch with all of the major (and emerging) Black artists, should be the group to search for the artist to create the monument.

The reason that I suggested "private" is because if the government does it, it would have to be open to all, and we will not allow the disgraceful results that happened in Washington, DC, where  the "open search" resulted in a Red Chinese winning the right to create a statue of Dr.Martin Luther King. No disrespect to the Chinese, but WE MUST ALLOW OUR OWN TO CREATE WORKS THAT  HONOUR OUR HEROES. ANYONE LESS THAT A BLACK ARTIST CREATING A STATUE OF GARVEY WOULD MEAN WAR.

There will be a meeting at Garvey Park (indoors) this Thursday at 7:30 PM. I'd advise those who are more politically conscious attend and not let the drummers alone, decide this issue. Even thought some of them don't realize it, it has deep consequences for other decisions that will go down in Harlem.                                                                               Kwame.

Please join us next Saturday July 7th to help support the Marcus Garvey Park drummers in their struggle against the ongoing police harassment.

Statement written by

Johnnie Stevens
By Phone :
update:Last night's drumming was uninterrupted by any disturbance from new residents or authorities. All day long, according to one attendee, people had been coming to the park to offer support.   At 7:30 there were at least 100 people, a dozen or more drummers, two trumpeters, several dancers drawn from the many listeners and any number of people with precussion instruments.   People came from Harlem and, responding to the call, from New Jersey, Queens, Brooklyn and who knows where else. Young and old (one man shared with me that he was 81) they stood, or sat, and enjoyed, or joined in, the music.   Seven thirty, the time events had been interrupted last week, came and went without event. At nine o'clock, the drumming stopped, the estimated one hundred participants and attendees left the park quietly.   It remains to be seen if last night represents a solution or a temporary respite due to the holiday weekend.  What was clear, from the number of people who came specifically to support the drummers, is that the community won't stand for new comers assuming control over community institutions!  
My own opinion, that brought me, from the African Arts Festival outside my window here in Brooklyn, up to Harlem to support the drummers, was a deeply felt resentment against the assumptions of the new arrivals to our communities - in Harlem, in Brooklyn, in all of our communities that newcomers have decided to try to claim for themselves - that they have, by right of arrival, the right to suppress our community institutions.   Nobody asked them to move in! The cultural fabric that they find when they arrive, would be well for them to accept, to learn to accommodate to. We still live here, it has been, and will continue to be, OUR community.   Confrontation is certainly not the path to harmony. We are not Lanape Algonquins, they are not the Dutch and this is not the seventeenth century! We will not be pushed out of our own communities in the interests of European expansion!   The forces of capitalism may be supporting their arrival, the forces of culture and the power of the community will support our survival!  
This isn't, I suspect, over, and I hope we see a whole lot of folks up there next week - and for all the weeks it takes to deliver the message that it is our park, our tradition, our institution, and that we will, with respect and firmness, protect our prerogatives.   Note to the newcommers - you paid for your apartment, not our community, our culture or our institutions. These are still ours and we will both indulge and protect what is ours. You will just have to learn to play well with others. You don't own the playground. We, however, do.   It occurs to me - since the complainers live just doors from a convent of nuns who have not expressed any concern about the 9:00 closing time for the past 30 years , what makes last weeks complainers so high, mighty and holy?   I know. I'm p.o.'d and venting! I need to go eat breakfast and take the taste of their disrespect out of my mouth! Come on out to the African Arts Festival today - and see y'all in Marcus Garvey Park next week! If you see me, holla!   "Power concedes nothing without a demand" -Fredrick Douglass  


HARLEM: RACE, CLASS & GENTRIFICATION   Saving the Soul of Black Businesses in Harlem :  Ending the Economic Siege of Our Community”   “Wake up & Smell the Power of Your Black Dollars        Connecting the dots Community Forum                                           
St. Ambrose Church
 Saturday, July 14, 2007         
                                     9 West 130
th Street                                                
                             4 PM - 7 PM                                                          
(Between Fifth and Lenox Avenues)       
Speakers: Sikhulu Shange (owner of the Record Shack for past 35 years), Minister Kevin Mahammad (Mosque #7), Rev. James David Manning (ATLAH Ministries), Harlem Filmmaker Duana Butler, Maurice Powell ( 125th St. Vendors), Representatives from the 116th Vendors, Nellie Bailey ( Harlem Tenants Council), and others!!    Special Report: Marcus Garvey Park Drummers Will not Be Silenced! The so called “revitalization” of Harlem is taking place with the ethnic cleansing of local Black businesses. Major corporate chains are moving in while local Black businesses are being forced out, incredibly with funds from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) that subsidized $11.2 million in loans to Harlem USA that also received funds from Chase Manhattan Bank and the Empire State Development Corp.  This is nothing more than “economic racism”!! Join us in this powerful community discussion on how to take back the local Black economic life of Harlem. Light Refreshments Served Sponsors: Harlem Tenants Council (HTC at 212-234-5005 or email: and Harlem Committee To Protect Black Businesses       ( 212-866-1600) or Directions: 2 or 3 Train to 125th or 135th Street .[TheBlackList] Harlem Forum on Gentrification and survival of Black Businesses

By John Burl Smith
from "The Dish" Internet Magazine

The term irony indicates incongruity between what might be expected and
what actually exists or contrasts between apparent and intended meaning or
consequences.  Truth and reality, good intentions but bad results, even
good results from bad intentions are all instances of irony.  Another
example is the United States (US) is a Christian nation, where people
believe "all men are created equal," yet, it was founded on the
institution of slavery.   Thus, considering US slave descendants and their
present dilemma, irony describes their situation perfectly.

Knowledge and the acquisition of it have always been major forces behind
slaves and their descendants' drive to become a people.  Since kidnaping
free Africans and forcing them into bondage approximately 400 years ago,
keeping them ignorant has been a major goal of whites in the US. 
Attainment of knowledge by slaves has been dictated by the need to
accomplish limited tasks through labor or scarcity in white manpower.  Any
knowledge beyond that gained by slaves was their creation or manufacture. 
Once out of forced bondage, slaves and their descendants faced knowledge,
socioeconomic and political gaps relative to whites.

Almost immediately following the Civil War and the Reconstruction period,
whites began  using their knowledge, socioeconomic and political
advantages to force slave descendants into economic slavery.   Ironically,
in less than twenty years after emancipation, federal, state and local
governments augmented by lynch law enforced by the Ku Klux Klan and Jim
Crow segregation had forced blacks into a situation worse than slavery,
because terror became the white man's instrument of control.

Terrorism suborned by government created a hostile environment so lethal
to slave descendants that lynching drew crowds as large as a hundred
thousand white men, woman and children to what were called "picnics." 
This extra-legal system remained intact until the late 1960s.  Segregation
and its hostile environment maintained the knowledge, socioeconomic and
political advantages whites had over slaves in 1865, and the irony is that
in 1965 conditions were relatively the same for their descendants.  There
is no measure of conditions, legal statue or social practice that was
implemented by the US government to reverse this situation, let alone make
up for the 218 years of discrimination, disparate treatment, racism and
hostile environmental conditions slave descendants have endured.

Ironically, in their ability to do for themselves, minus lynching, slave
descendants fared better during segregation than during the subsequent
period of so-called integration.  This was not because of segregation but
because of the indomitable will of slave descendants not only to survive
but improve as a people.  Over the course of that 218 years of terror and
deprivation, blacks have beat the odds and defeated efforts to deny them
opportunities to demonstrate their  phenomenal abilities.  Slave
descendants were so successful, whites built the US economy on their backs
by plotting and taking over everything slavery's descendants built or