By SADIE PARKER, age 11

During the Harlem Renaissance, the Schomburg Center was an important place for African American artists and activists. PHOTO: Flickr/trini_map
During the Harlem Renaissance, the Schomburg Center was an important place for African American artists and activists. PHOTO: Flickr/trini_map

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL), is a leading research center for the history and culture of people of African descent. It also provides an excellent opportunity to explore New York’s rich history and become engaged in its progressive future.

The research center was named after Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, a Puerto Rican-born black scholar, who sold his extensive collection of books and artifacts to the NYPL in 1926. He then served as the center’s curator from 1932 until his death in 1938. Schomburg was inspired to start his collection because as a child, a teacher told him that people of African descent did not have any history, important leaders or important achievements.

During the Harlem Renaissance,* the Schomburg Center was an important place for African American artists and activists, like poets Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, to collaborate.

The Schomburg Center continues the tradition of bringing creative activists together with Schomburg Junior Scholars, a unique program available to kids ages 11 to 18 that aims to inspire the next generation of artists, activists and academics. Samuel, a sixth grader who who has been a Junior Scholar for three years, said, “I love reading and at the program we got books from the many people who came to speak with us and encouraged us to learn and understand our culture.”

Through exhibitions like the Black Comic Convention and Funky Turns 40: The Black Character Revolution, which explores the evolution of black animated characters, the Schomburg Center remains a fun and meaningful way to learn about American history from the perspective of people of African descent.

*Harlem Renaissance: a cultural movement during the 1920s that involved the growth and development of African American music, art and philosophical and religious thought. While it was centered in the Manhattan neightborhood of Harlem, the movement took place in urban areas throughout the Northeast and Midwest of the United States.