A mainstay of Harlem history is in danger of being dismantled. The collection of materials at the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture may be partitioned and sent to various branches of the New York Public Library. This in addition to the possibility of the Center’s collections being sent off to another research library should be an issue of great concern for the Harlem community in particular, and those in the African Diaspora in general. There is even talk of renaming the facility.
The Schomburg is a world reknown research library, and to treat its collection like its of little consequence is a mistake. Originally created in 1926, the Center has been a beacon for scholars, activists, and historians studying and gathering information. With director Howard Dodson slated to leave in February of 2011, the future of the research library is very much in jeopardy.
It should also be widely known that Henry Louis Gates, who has some highly questionable notions about African history, will be co-chairing the search committee for the new curator of The Schomburg. Given his tendency to downplay the facts of history in regards to the African Slave Trade, there is little confidence in Gates willingness to preserve the cultural heritage that the Center has represented for over 80 years. As America’s foremost post-racial scholar, Henry Louis Gates does not share the concerns of the residents of Harlem for the retention of its Black culture and history.
Its apparent that the community of New York City will have to become involved in this matter to ensure that the Schomburg will not be on the chopping block.. I urge that those who are in favor of protecting the Center sign the CEMOTAP petition here We in the Harlem community can not allow this to happen. People come from all over the world to access this library. It would be a tragedy if we allow the life work of Arturo A. Schomburg to be undermined by those who do not have the best interests of our people in mind.
Marc W. Polite
Note: This information comes from last week’s Amsterdam News
Update: 7.18.10- For an Update on the Save the Schomburg campaign, click here