Over the years, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has become like a second home to me. I visit often for cultural events and exhibitions, some of which I’ve talked about here on my blog. Every time I visit, I learn something new and find another piece of history for me to ponder or research further on my own.
Founded in 1925 when the original 135th Street Library obtained a massive collection of African American literature and historical artifacts from Arturo Alfonso Schomburg. (The 135th Street Library was established in 1905 and later called the Countee Cullen Library.)
The library and research center has a long and storied history with some legendary librarians and directors at its helm (i.e. Ernestine Rose, Catherine Allen Latimer, Sadie Delaney and Jean Blackwell Hutson) and the support of wealthy philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie. It has been landmarked locally and nationally, landmarked in New York City as well as with the US National Historic Landmark and the US National Register of Historical Places.
The research center has also undergone a series of renovations and additions and architectural combinations with its original and current buildings as well as with the official Countee Cullen Library, which now means its comprises at least one-third of a city block. The Schomburg Center comprises the library and research galleries, a theater (which was the original home for the Negro Theater Ensemble), auditorium, reception hall, gardens, courtyards etc.
In addition to being a library and research center, the Schomburg Center now has the most welcoming spaces for hosting parties, cultural festivities, theatrical productions, film viewings, conversations and discourse with cultural leaders and experts. I’ve attended an array of events here and always leave with my heart full and my mind afire.
I urge you to visit the Schomburg Center in Harlem if you’ve never been and to return if you have never been.
Until next time,