I hope this recent find each of you well, and for those here on the East Coast, staying "cool" in this early summer heat wave! Since my last update, I've been continuing to collect and research any final remnants of Harlem Prep materials that I have not yet found -- and I have a few goodies to share! While I will always be very interested in speaking with more alumni and finding new materials, I am on the tail-end of of the "research phase" (i.e., finding as much information about Harlem Prep as possible!) and moving toward my "writing phase" soon. (I'll talk about this briefly later on.) So, without further ado:
1) Harlem Prep student made films: I have great follow-up news from the last update! After a detective-like hunt that started with an old Amsterdam News article from 1972 and ending with multiple conversations with an old film archival specialist at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts, I tracked down the short film that was created by Ilanga Witt, a 1971 Harlem Prep graduate. (I am not in contact with this alumnus, so please do reach out if you have any information about his whereabouts or life updates.) This film, entitled "Four Women," was an interpretative live footage dance by Harlem Prep students to one of Nina Simone's iconic songs.
After making an appointment to view the film, former Harlem Prep English teacher, George "Sandy" Campbell, as well as Ed Carpenter's daughter Karen "Casey" Carpenter joined me. We had to use an old Steenbeck machine (picture on left) which plays 16mm films, and it was quite the adventure! Since it's a bit of a hassle to view the by appointment only, I did my best to record it (despite the low quality of the original 16mm) and share it. Click here to view the film.
2) Dr. Henry Pruitt and the 1970 Harlem Prep Yearbook: Yes, you read that right! I have a copy -- unfortunately, a poorly-copied "copy" -- of the 1970 Harlem Prep yearbook. (Previously, I had not come across any information that yearbooks even existed. Do you remember having yearbooks when you attended? I would be curious to know!) Anyway, a few months ago, Peter Hopson, Class of '71, was able to get in contact with Dr. Henry Pruitt, who served as an administrator from 1971 to 1972 and worked with Ed and Ann Carpenter. (Thank you again Peter for this!) Sandy Campbell joined us, and we met Dr. Pruitt in Teaneck, NJ, where he is still active, and we spoke with him for almost an hour about his memories of Harlem Prep. It was a great conversation and his insight as an administrator will go a long way in my book project.
However, even more excitingly, Dr. Pruitt brought each of us a copy of a 1970 Harlem Prep yearbook. How cool, right?! Again, although the quality is not the greatest, I've uploaded what Dr. Pruitt gave me for everyone to view. Click here to view the yearbook. Enjoy!
3) Other musings on the research front: In addition, I've been fortunate to continue speaking with various alumni (thank you so, so much for those who have spoken with me!) and recording oral histories. Second, Casey Carpenter, Ed and Ann Carpenter's daughter, has been kindly digging through her attic to find any old pictures or files left from her parents -- and there have been some great successes! We found a bunch of pictures of Harlem Prep from the late 1970s, and at another time, I'll try to see if I can put those online for you all to view, too. Finally, I am going to spend the entire day (6/16) at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, as they have old files from the New York Urban League. If you can recall, the NYUL helped found Harlem Prep in 1967 (click here and here for some early Prep/NYUL documents), and these files -- and more information about the NYUL as an organization and their leaders -- will go along way in helping to better understand Harlem Prep's creation. As always, I'll let you know what I find!
4) Personal update and trajectory: As a few of you might know, at the end of this month (June 28), I will be leaving New York permanently -- after six years in NYC, I am moving to Los Angeles to be closer to my family. However, I will still be visiting NYC fairly often next year (including for the reunion!), of course. This coincides with the trajectory of the Harlem Prep project: as mentioned before, starting this summer, I will be working on writing my dissertation (basically this book-length thesis) on Harlem Prep close to full-time next year. Although I have written blogs and articles, and given presentations, I am excited to officially start writing the Harlem Prep story in its entirety!
That's all for now, and thank you to everyone who has been so kind and supportive in this process. For the next update, I definitely plan to provide some outlines of the book, so stay tuned in the weeks and months to come! As always, please feel free to comment or reach out with any questions or thoughts.