Introducing Our Social Justice Topic Series on Activism in East Harlem

This e-book is a compilation of our topic series entitled ‘Activist East Harlem,’ that appeared on the JustPublics@365 blog from April 22 – June 2, 2014. It is the fourth in our social justice topic series. In each series, we select a topic. We then invite academics, activists, librarians, journalists and documentary filmmakers to share their perspectives on that topic. We curate contributors’ viewpoints through a variety of media: podcasts, video, maps, data visualizations, and infographics. Each contribution appears on the JustPublics@365 blog and social media channels. At the conclusion of each topic series, we make theĀ e-book available to everyone and encourage community members, activists, academics and journalists, to use these resources for activism, reporting, teaching, and learning.

Our previous social justice topic series are: 1) Imagining New York City After Stop and Frisk; 2) Transforming Policy from Punishment to Public Health; and 3) Scholarly Communication in the Digital Era for the Public Good.

CommConvo poster Our goal with this topic series was to deepen and expand the work of a community meeting at the CUNY School of Public Health on April 26, 2014. This meeting brought together volunteers, city officials, and faculty and staff from CUNY to discuss emergency response following a tragic gas explosion nearby that had killed 8 people the previous month. Participants met in groups to discuss the event, make recommendations for better emergency response in the future, and strengthen community partnerships. Afterwards, several people sat down with us to talk about their experience, which we produced as a series of podcasts.

The active participation in the meeting was characteristic of the strong, invested community of East Harlem, also known as El Barrio. We drew inspiration from this event and highlighted other important activist work and pressing issues impacting the community, especially affordable housing and gentrification, and drug policy reform. In addition to the conversations with local volunteers, our series included interviews with a local journalist and two scholar-activists; featured the work of local filmmakers; highlighted a two-day forum on drug policy reform held at the New York Academy of Medicine; and discussed current events and policies impacting the neighborhood.

This series portrays only a small portion of the dynamic activist work being done by local residents. To do justice to this rich community would take far longer. Luckily, this work is represented by the many community groups that are active in East Harlem and in everyday life in the neighborhood. We encourage you to start here and do more exploring on your own, both virtually and in person. Take a walk around the neighborhood and meet some of the amazing people who call it El Barrio.

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