Farah Griffin

Farah Griffin, director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies and professor of English and comparative literature and African-American studies, discusses Harlem through the eyes of Ann Petry, a novelist, journalist, and social activist, who wrote about life in Harlem during the 1930s and 1940s. Petry, a best-selling author in her time, laced her writing with remarkable details that were informed by her work as a Harlem-based consumer advocate, her engagement with The American Negro Theater, and her role as a women's page writer for Harlem publications. Professor Griffin cites two passages from the writings of Ann Petry. One is a poetic description from the novel The Street, in which the main character gets off the A train and comes up out of the subway, merging into the crowds on the streets of Harlem where she finally can feel at home. The second passage, from the short story "In Darkness and Confusion," describes a scene during the Harlem riots of 1943.

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Photo Essay: Harlem Arts & Culture
"Harlem, New York, was a place where for the first time Negroes got out into the mainstream of the dramatic world. You had extraordinarily large dramatic movements."
—A. Philip Randolph

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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