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TIMELINE 1940-1969


Assemblyman Charles B. Rangel defeats incumbent Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in the Democratic primary.


The City University of New York inaugurates an open admissions policy designed to increase the number of poor and minority students.


Albert Murray’s book, The Omni-Americans: New Perspectives on Black Experience and American Culture, is published.



Percy Sutton forms the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation. By the end of the 1970s, Inner City Broadcasting is the most profitable black business in Harlem, with a net worth of $15 million.


The Schomburg Collection is transferred by the New York Public Library from the Branch Libraries to the Research Libraries and renamed the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.



Mount Morris Park on Fifth Avenue between 122nd and 124th Streets is renamed Marcus Garvey Park.


The Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop Foundation, Inc. is founded by Garland Lee Thompson, Morgan Freeman, Billie Allen and Clayton Riley. 



The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, under the leadership of Lloyd Williams, launches Harlem Day (later to become Harlem Week), a celebration of cultural, economic, and athletic achievements. 


Seventh Avenue in Harlem is renamed Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard.


The Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building is dedicated at the corner of 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard.



Eighth Avenue in Harlem is renamed Frederick Douglass Boulevard.



The Valley is created by John Bess at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to deal with the problems of black and latino youth between the ages of fourteen and twenty-four. By 1998 the organization serves over 100,000 youth.


Aaron Davis Hall for the Performing Arts opens at City College in Harlem, 135th Street and Convent Avenue.

Pope John Paul II visits Harlem.


The Sugar Hill Gang, a Harlem-based music group, releases one of the first recorded rap albums, “Rapper’s Delight,” which sells over two million copies in the U.S. and eight million worldwide.


Gertrude Jeannette founds the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players.


Harlemite Basil Paterson is appointed by Governor Carey as the first African- American New York State Secretary of State.



Prime Minister Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is the featured speaker during the Harlem Week celebration.


Woodie King, Jr. creates the National Black Touring Circuit, a program to cultivate an international black theater audience.



Forces of Nature Dance Theatre Company is founded by Artistic Director Abdel R. Salaam and ’Dele Husbands at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.



Vy Higgensen’s Mama I Want To Sing opens in Harlem. It later becomes the longest running black off-Broadway musical. 


Voza Rivers is appointed Executive Producer of New Heritage Theatre Group, located at 290 Lenox Avenue.



Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement launches the Bradhurst  Project in Harlem to create over one thousand apartments.


“Sarafina!”, the Broadway musical co-produced by Voza Rivers is presented at Aaron Davis Hall.



C. Virginia Fields is the first African- American woman elected from Manhattan to  the New York City Council.  She is elected Manhattan Borough President in 1997.


The Abyssinian Development Corporation is incorporated as a nonprofit community-based organization by the Abyssinian Baptist Church.


Raven Chanticleer opens the African American Wax and History Museum of Harlem on West 115th Street.




On January 1, David Dinkins is sworn in as mayor of New York City, the first African-American to hold the office.


On June 20, Nelson Mandela, freed leader of the South African Congress, visits the United States. He is honored with a parade in Harlem and presented with Inge Hardison’s sculpture of Sojourner Truth.


Blackberry Productions, founded in 1984 by Stephanie Berry and John-Martin Green, establishes their Arts-in-Education program at the Young Adult Learning Academy in East Harlem.



The ashes of noted poet Langston Hughes are interred at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, in a specially designed container sealed beneath the floor’s cosmogram entitled “Rivers,” designed by artist Houston Conwill, and dedicated to Hughes.


Harlem Children's Zone (formerly known as Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families), under the leadership of Geoffrey Canada, begins operating its first Beacon School in Central Harlem.



The Frederick Douglass Academy, directed by Dr. Lorraine Monroe, opens on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and 149th Street.



A police department sting investigation leads to the arrest or disciplinary action against thirty-five officers assigned to the 30th Precinct in Harlem.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development designates Harlem as one of six sites for an Empowerment Zone (EZ).  The ten-year designation is accompanied by a federal grant of $100 million and $250 million in federal tax credit.



Harlem-born rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur dies from wounds received in a West coast drive-by shooting.



Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger’s Black Family Task Force reports that while the median income for black families nearly doubled between 1980-1990, it was still only sixty percent of white median family income.  The report states that thirty-three percent of all black families lived in poverty in 1990, compared to twenty-nine percent in 1979.



Thousands of black youth line Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem for the Million Youth March.


The New York Black 100 exhibition opens at the Schomburg Center. Celebrating the lives and achievements of one hundred black New York history-makers of the twentieth century, the exhibition provides clear evidence some of black America’s most outstanding history-makers trace their roots to or through Harlem and New York City.


The Harlem Strategic Cultural Collaborative is created. Its members are Aaron  Davis Hall,
The Apollo Theatre Foundation, Inc., The Boys Choir of Harlem, Dance Theatre of Harlem,
The Harlem School of the Arts, Jazzmobile, Inc., National Black Theatre Inc., Schomburg Center
for Research in Black Culture, and The Studio Museum in Harlem.


Harlemite Marie Brooks moves her renowned Pan Caribbean Dance Theatre to Wadleigh High School on West 114th Street.



Former President Bill Clinton moves into his new office complex at 55 West 125th Street.


National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame is created by the Greater Harlem Chamber
of Commerce.


Harlem Arts Alliance is created with fourteen cultural groups.



U.S. Postage Stamp honoring Langston Hughes and the 100th Birthday Centennial is unveiled in Harlem at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.


The George Wolfe musical review, Harlem Song, opens at the Apollo.


Harlem Little League baseball team receives a triumphant welcome-home celebration at Marcus Garvey Park after reaching the semifinals in the Little League World Series.



harlem is… Celebrating the Living History of Harlem, a public art and education project of Community Works, opens simultaneously at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Aaron Davis Hall before beginning a city-wide and national tour.


The New York City Council approves rezoning of Frederick Douglass Boulevard from 110th Street to 121st Streets, setting the stage for major redevelopment.



The National Jazz Museum in Harlem opens a new Visitors Center at 104 East 126th Street. 



Albert Maysles establishes the Maysles Institute; three years later the Maysles Cinema, the only independent film house north of Lincoln Center, opens on Malcolm X Boulevard, between 127th and 128th Streets.



The New York City Planning Commission and the New York City Council approve Columbia University’s plan for a 17 acre Manhattanville campus.


The New York City Council approves a rezoning plan for Harlem’s 125th Street that promises to change the fabled street from river to river. 


The black population of central Harlem is four in ten residents, smaller than at any time since the 1920s.



Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson opens Red Rooster restaurant on Malcolm X Boulevard at 126th Street.



The National Dance Institute Center for Learning and the Arts, founded by Jacques D’Amboise, opens a state of the art facility at 148th Street between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevards. 


Howard Dodson, Jr., Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, retires after 26 years. His successor is Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad.


Barack Obama, the first African-American elected President of the United States, makes his first visit to Harlem as president.



Sylvia Woods, founder of the legendary Sylvia’s Restaurant on Malcolm X Boulevard at 127th Street, dies at the age of 85.

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