June 1, 2019
12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Located in the shadow of City College’s Shepard Hall and one block west of the famed Striver’s Row, the compact and picturesque neighborhood of Dorrance Brooks Square has a widely overlooked story of black Harlem to tell. Prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance who called these blocks home include W.E.B. DuBois, Walter White, Regina Anderson Andrews, Ethel Ray Nance, Jules Bledsoe, and A’Lelia Walker. The district’s four churches, particularly St. Mark’s Methodist Episcopal and Grace Congregational, played an important role in fostering the community’s artistic, intellectual, and civic development. Dedicated in 1925, the square is the first public space in the city to honor a black serviceman, a soldier who died in action while serving with a segregated military regiment in the First World War. Its symbolic significance made it a frequent site of protests, marches, commemorations, and political rallies, not least on two occasions—October 30, 1948 and October 11, 1952—when President Harry Truman delivered campaign speeches there before massive, predominantly black audiences. The Dorrance Brooks Square neighborhood has been nominated as a historic district to the National Register of Historic Places and the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission is considering it for local designation. The research for its nomination was completed by Marissa Marvelli, who will be leading this tour.