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  City Hall Library Notes, February 2009


By Christine Bruzzese

February has been designated Black History Month in celebration of African-American culture and achievements. This article will present some materials focusing on Black history that can be found in the City Hall Library collection.

The Mayor's Commission on Black New Yorkers was established by Mayor Koch in January 1986 and completed their study in November 1988. The Commission found that black New Yorkers tended to be less educated and more economically disadvantaged than whites. This report offers possible solutions and also contains useful statistical information on education, economic development, poverty and employment.

The Harlem Riot of 1943 by Dominic Capeci, Jr. studies the causes and background of the riot that erupted in the predominantly African-American neighborhood in August 1943. Issues examined include the roles of key political figures, race relations between blacks and whites in the city, particularly Harlem and the black response to the outbreak of World War II. The events of the riot, police and public responses and historical perspectives are also considered.

Root and Branch: African-Americans in New York and East Jersey: 1613-1863 by Graham Hodges offers a history of blacks during this time in period in both New York City and nearby environs, tracing the rise of slavery, gradual emancipation and stressing the importance of religion and culture to the community. A Covenant with Color: Race and Social Power in Brooklyn by Craig Steven Wilder analyzes racial and social structure in Brooklyn from 1636 to 1990. The focus is on relationships between blacks and whites and the African- American struggle to be accepted as equal.

Vertical files can be consulted for further information on topics pertaining to black history. Biographical files offer articles and other clippings on African-Americans who have contributed to New York City politics, culture and life.

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