When photographer Camilo Jose Vergara began to notice that Harlem was collapsing all around him, he decided to document the collapse. Then a funny thing happened. Instead of getting worse, the city began to make a turnaround.
Some people would like to attribute Harlem’s turnaround to gentrification, but Harlem has always been a hub for black creativity and genius. Acclaimed African-American novelist Ann Petry came from a middle-class family, but moved to Harlem in 1938 to be with her husband and escape the expectations of her parents. When she came to Harlem, she found work as a journalist, and quickly became involved in progressive political movements.The same can be said for several other black artists who, together, made up the Harlem Renaissance.
Vergara has walked the streets of Harlem for forty years and documented both the decline and rebirth of a neighborhood, and if you look closely, you’ll also see the resilience of a people in his work.
Source: The Daily Mail