It's done! The manuscript is completed and ready to be shared!

Dear Harlem Prep friends,

A photo of one of the pages in Chapter 9, from a printed copy.

A photo of one of the pages in Chapter 9, from a printed copy.

I hope you all are well! It is with great pleasure and even greater humility that I have wonderful news: I have completed the manuscript that has become the Harlem Prep Project, entitled “Learning, Liberation, and Love: The Story of Harlem Preparatory School, 1967-1974.” It’s still hard to believe and feels a bit surreal, to say the least. After first learning about Harlem Prep in 2012, I’ve  spent the last 6+ years – with your help, guidance, and generosity – working tirelessly to research and help further share the Harem Prep story. I won’t recap the whole process here – the moving interviews and stories you all have kindly shared with me, the thousands of pages of documents I’ve viewed and analyzed, and the numerous friendships I have developed along the way. Although it has been the most wonderful privilege of my life to write about Harlem Prep, it has also been a long journey, and there were many days where I felt like I would not be able to complete this project and to write the story that I had been researching for so many years.

I still feel like that on some days: that the story as I told it was not told completely, or as fully, or as humanely as it should be. There was, and still is, so much love that is part of Harlem Prep that go beyond words; so much brilliance, and determination, and sheer magic that is impossible to capture fully on paper. Yet, I thought of all of you each day – and it is your spirit that empowered me and guided me to give everything that I could to write this story of Harlem Prep to the best of my abilities. So, from the bottom of my heart: thank you for everything (click here for a short, formal acknowledgments thanking you, the Harlem Prep community, that is in the manuscript). I sincerely hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

So, what does all this mean?! Well, the first phase of the Harlem Prep Project is done! Due to copyright issues, I cannot post the manuscript here, but if you contact me on Facebook, through e-mail (, or via phone, I can send you a digital copy right away.  

A few notes about the manuscript: first, it’s very long! In total, it is 591 pages. But, don’t worry! While it is indeed long, many of those pages are not part of the narrative. Furthermore, it is long because of the way the pages are spaced and because of the “footnotes” (basically all of the citations and sources), and overall, it is not as long as it seems – I promise! Furthermore, after you get through the Introduction and chapter 1, the rest of the manuscript is much easier reading! “Part II” is the heart and soul of this story!

Finally, what’s next? Good question! I am in the process of reaching out to book publishers, with hopes of publishing this work into a formal book as soon as I can. I have a few leads already, and this summer, I am going to work as diligently as I can to turn this manuscript into the book that it deserves – and that the Harlem Prep community deserves. Once that happens, there is much to change: making the manuscript shorter, making changes and revisions, etc. But, I will keep you all updated this summer and beyond -- I promise!

In the meantime, please reach out if you have any questions or would like to talk further. I would love to speak about it and share my immense gratitude! Thank you all for everything you have done to help me complete this first part of the project – and we’ll be back in touch soon!

With love,


A (quick) Happy Holidays wish!

Dear Harlem Prep friends,

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! I just wanted to wish you all a very happy holiday season — and for those of you on the East Coast and beloved New York City, a wish to stay warm — and a very, very happy and healthy New Year. I am thinking of you all in this holiday season, more than you know!

In terms of an update on my progress, I am deep in revisions on the Harlem Prep project, and making good progress toward a completed dissertation/story by spring time. As I give thanks in this holiday season and in reflection of another year past, I want to thank you all for the richness of stories of you have given me, and more than anything, the faith and trust you have placed in me to tell your beautiful stories individually and collectively at Harlem Prep. I am continually humbled and grateful.

I have two little “gifts”: one, a raw 2-minute clip from the 1972 Commencement Ceremony in front of the Hotel Theresa on 125th Street, from the Associated Press video archives. Some of you may have seen this before, but if you haven’t, it is truly a beautiful and powerful clip. Click the image below to be taken to the website to watch:

Second, here’s a brief snippet of the end of Chapter 5, where I write about the educational program at Harlem Prep, such as the open-space building, curriculum, extracurriculars, scheduling, and other logistics. This is the first part of my conclusion of this chapter. Click the text-image below to enlarge:

Once again, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you all! As always, if you would like to reach out about anything — to tell a story for inclusion or about anything at all — please don’t hesitate to reach out.



A long overdue update -- draft completed and a video to share!

To my dearest Harlem Prep friends,

A picture of a pictures b-roll pages that I found buried at the Exxon archives in Texas.

Hello! It has been too many months since my last update — and I apologize for waiting so long to post. (However, I have a surprise to make up for it at the end of this post!) So many things have been going on in my life, but my love and passion for Harlem Prep has remained. I’ve now lived in Southern California for over a year now, and while it is wonderful to be close with family, I deeply miss my Harlem Prep family. I miss our visits and correspondences, and soaking up the energy in Harlem — and even just feeling that internal warmth knowing that many of you and the spirit of Harlem Prep were only a subway ride away.

Last year, as you all know, was spent writing the Harlem Prep story after many years of research in New York City, New Jersey, and beyond. Each day, I’d spend as many hours as my mind would allow writing about Harlem Prep, trying to synthesize over a thousand (yes, that many!) documents related to the school and its students, and hundreds of pages of oral history transcriptions. The beauty, the mystique, the complexity, the exceptionalism of this institution — as I see it — jumped off of these documents and transcriptions over and over again, and it was a challenge to somehow craft all of that into a powerful, yet honest, narrative that would give the school and it’s wonderful people justice the best that I could.

In result of this year-long writing — and in all its many imperfections — I finished a near-complete draft of this story in late June. After 370 pages (double-spaced on the computer, don’t worry!) of text, I took a break and gently put Harlem Prep aside, momentarily.

A beautiful picture — students working, with no one else in sight, under the Moja Logo slogan.

Shortly after, in July, I was hired as a part-time history professor at a community college where I live. Although I’ve worked with young people in the past, it is my first time teaching at the college level. While it has certainly been a whirlwind, I have loved every minute of it — it has truly been a privilege to be able to teach and learn from young people who are trying to reach their dreams. In my teaching, I think about Harlem Prep constantly. In every class that I plan and in every strategy that I employ, I think of Harlem Prep — what would the Sandy Campbell’s or the Ann Carpenter’s or the Dr. Ben’s do? In reflection, after 8 weeks of teaching so far, I realize how much Harlem Prep has deeply influenced my teaching style in countless ways.

The last few weeks, however, I have been jumping back into Harlem Prep. Where does this leave me? Where does this leave us? I am currently revising/editing/adding to each of the eight chapters that I wrote last academic year, based on feedback from my advisor at Columbia University. I plan to spend the next few months revising this current draft into a more polished one. The goal is to be finished sometime in March — in which, from there, I can hopefully begin to circulate a working draft and then, once it’s finalized, share it all publicly and begin to turn it into a book to send to publishers!

Here is an updated outline of what each of these eight chapters currently look like. Click the button to read the document:

Revisions so far are going well, although, as always, there is so much to say! One of the questions I am struggling throughout the narrative revolve around gender — particularly in the context of today. What were the gender politics like at Harlem Prep? (There has been history research on how the civil rights movement was often sexist, and African-American women were often marginalized in leadership positions.) Was Harlem Prep originally intended to be for men only? (The first class, 30 of the first 36 students were male and I can’t seem to find the answer to this question.) How I can include additional stories of Ann Carpenter in the narrative, since we all know that she did so much for the school even though Ed gets much of the credit. (Many of my documents I have found are written from the perspective of Ed, only.) If anyone would like to offer their thoughts on any of these questions — or narratives about Ann, specifically, too — I would very much love to hear them and to include them!

Finally, I have one last thing: in April, I presented some work on Harlem Prep at an education conference to teachers, administrators, and education researchers and practitioners. It was a true joy and extremely humbling! In hopes of sharing with you, I created a video of that presentation with my voice narration in the background. I hope you enjoy!


This presentation is based off a newly-published chapter that is in a book to help prepare pre-service teachers (i.e., those who are training to become teachers). Unfortunately, because of copyright issues — and I’ll get in trouble! — I can’t post a link online, but if you contact me (e-mail or phone or Facebook), I can share a copy of this chapter! Here is information about the book: Radical Educators Rearticulating Education and Social Change (I don’t know why the book is so expensive at this point!) Anyway, the chapter is not perfect and I was under certain limitations, but I hope people training to become teachers can become inspired — and learn from — Harlem Prep’s teachers and apply those same principles to the present. I know for certain that Harlem Prep has inspired me.

In the perilous times that we currently live in, Harlem Prep gives me hope — much-needed hope! — and it continues to be an honor to have the opportunity to tell this beautiful story. I am slowly having opportunities to share small parts of this story (in this book chapter and presentation, for example), and truly cannot wait until I am able to share this whole, amazing and beautiful and complex story with each of you and the world. I promise, though I am out of sight, all of you are not out of mind!

Thank you for all your support, help, trust and love — and I promise to post again soon. Please never hesitate to reach out. Wishing you all the best, happiness and good health.


Presenting in NYC on Harlem Prep

Dear Harlem Prep alumni and my dear friends,

I hope everyone is well! Since my last update, I have been continuing to write, write, and write some more -- sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page by page. I have now completed a first draft of five of the nine total chapters of the Harlem Prep story, with another first draft of a chapter (Chapter 7 on Harlem Prep's community coalition) almost done, too. (To keep track, click here to visit my last update where I posted a detailed outline of all nine chapters of my dissertation/book!)

However, I wanted to check-in with a brief personal update as I've been on a slight writing hiatus: I have been preparing for two presentations about my research on Harlem Prep at AERA -- the American Educational Research Association. AERA is the largest education conference in the world, with over 17,000 attendees expected this year to talk about every facet of education in the present. (Yes, there is a lot that needs to be talked about -- and fixed!) To my delight, this year's conference is in New York City, so I will get to visit my old stomping grounds for a few days.

While I know it is short notice -- and schedules are busy -- I wanted to make sure to invite you all to these presentations:

Monday, April 16, 10:35am-12:05pm: presentation about how Harlem Prep was able to build a diverse "community coalition" of philanthropy and business with local support, crossing racial and ideological lines.


Tuesday, April 17, 8:15-9:45am: presentation about Harlem Prep teachers and their emancipatory teaching, and what teachers today can learn from Harlem Prep teachers' use of love and relevant pedagogy.

Each of these presentations will be about 10-12 minutes, and then there are other presenters who discuss their research on a related topic (i.e., teaching or history of education) during that time slot. Unfortunately, these are early times (particularly Tuesday) and the conference takes place at various hotels in Times Square -- absolute madness, I know! Still, if you are interested in attending, please reach out to me individually.

However, if you'd like to view the visual parts of the presentation that I am going to give, you can view them by clicking below. (Once you get to the presentation, give it a few minutes to load and click the ">" arrow to go to each slide.) They start off similar, and then are different. Just imagine me speaking about each of these things! :) Click below:

Harlem Prep Community Coalition Presentation [Monday]

Harlem Prep Emancipatory Teaching Presentation [Tuesday]

I can also send you the actual papers for you to read (which I am presenting on) to you, too. Just reach out individually by e-mail or phone. Alright, that's all for now! Thank you for continuing to believe in me and for all your support -- each day I get more excited to one day be able to share the Harlem Prep story with the world. We're getting there.

With love and gratitude,


An expanded outline and 50% draft done (plus sneak peak)!

Dear Harlem Prep alumni and friends,


I hope you all have had a wonderful start to 2018! Since the calendar switched, I have been hard at work, continuing to write each day about Harlem Prep -- and not a day goes by where I am not deeply grateful for the opportunity to write your extraordinary story.

Since my last post, I have made a lot of progress! Unlike the last update -- and thank you to those who reached out -- this time I have attached a real-life progress report, with a detailed outline of each chapter. And, things have definitely shifted! When I originally posted my first outline back in October, I only had planned for six or so chapters -- but now, I have nine full chapters planned. What changed, you might ask? Well, "you" did (so to speak)! There is so much to say about Harlem Prep, about the people who went there; so many stories to tell and dynamics to explore, and I just felt there was more that needed to be written about something so extraordinary and so unique (and truly timeless). For example, how could a story exist without a section about administrators and a deep analysis of how Ed Carpenter embraced multiculturalism with "unity through diversity?" Or, that there needed to be a separate chapter just exploring all the educational components of Harlem Prep: its classes, curriculum, and daily life? Plus, highlighting alumni stories and poetry should also flow through each chapter, no matter the focus. I saw Harlem Prep unfolding in three parts: its origins, its rise, and its descent, and have re-organized my dissertation in this way.

So, please click the button below to view the new outline (and please reach out with any questions or thoughts, too!). As you will see highlighted in yellow, I have completed first drafts of chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 (that's a total of 223 pages so far), and I am starting on chapter 7 soon. Of course, this outline may change, such as chapters 8 and 9 might be condensed and the introduction might just fold into chapter 1, but this is my best guess as of now! Without further ado, click below:

Oh, and one last thing! Here's a sneak peak of the last page and half of Chapter 5 on Harlem Prep's students, teachers, and administrators (click to enlarge):

As always, if you have not shared your story and experiences about Harlem Prep, and would like to do so for inclusion into the dissertation/book, please reach out to me personally at or here on the website (or via Facebook or phone). I would to hear from you! (Or, if you have any documents/photos you would be willing to share.)

We are getting there -- I can't wait to share it all with you in due time.

With tons of love and endless appreciation,


P.S. Of course a few "goodies" from the archives! First, a short newsletter called The Lamp put out by Standard Oil at Harlem Prep. Second, a PDF of two letters between Ed Carpenter and Ford Foundation program officer Joshua Smith, that details budgetary information about funding academic departments. Enjoy!