Samuel Battle

Samuel Battle became the first African American patrolman in New York City in 1911.

The New York City Police Museum

Samuel J. Battle, interviewed in 1960, was the first African American patrolman in New York City. He joined the force in 1911, assigned first to San Juan Hill, the neighborhood where Lincoln Center is today, which preceded Harlem as one of the key African American neighborhoods in Manhattan. He was soon moved to Harlem, as the African American population there grew. He would later become the first African American police sergeant (1926), lieutenant (1935), and the first African American parole commissioner (1941).

Read Oral History

Photo Essay: The Streets of Harlem
"Can we think of another neighborhood in the world that has the kind of resonance that Harlem has? Greenwich Village, and neighborhoods in London, but I think it's hard to beat Harlem."
—Robert O'Meally

Arts and Culture
The flowering of Harlem music, theater, and writing is explored by Columbia faculty and recalled by eminent African Americans social leaders.

The Neighborhood
Harlem at different times was a magnet for Jews, West Indians, and African Americans from across the United States.

Reflections on Adam Clayton Powell, the odyssey of David Dinkins and political culture itself in Harlem.

Columbia Next Door
Quotations on Columbia’s role in the Harlem community.

The Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia.

Paul Robeson
One of the most prominent black Americans of the 1930s and 1940s, Robeson won critical and popular acclaim for his stage and screen roles.

Ahead of Their Time
From Sid Luckman to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Columbians have often been ahead of their time.
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