|| Home Page | Welcome | Contents | Staff | Support Us ||

Date Posted:6/24/05

The Restoration of P.S.186
by:Kevin Benoit

At 4:37, broad daylight by most standards, on Wednesday June 15th right on 145th Street and Broadway one teen shot another teen four times after a heated argument. Phoenix Garrett, 15, was hustling bootlegs CD’s as an after school activity, but apparently something went terribly wrong when L'mani Delina of Springfield Gardens, Queens reportedly opened fire. Garrett just finished his freshman year at A. Philip Randolph High School. This is definitely not the first of such murders in Harlem, but this one is especially heartbreaking because of the age of the two boys.

On Friday June 24th members of the community organized a campaign with two goals. First to highlight the murder. Violence being promoted by television, movies, and music can’t be the way that our teens feel they have to survive, it can’t be the guide to the lives of teens. As part of that goal the members of the community are requesting that the building that used to house P.S. 186 be opened for immediate construction and turned into a community center.
P.S. 186 was opened in 1903 as an elementary school for students in kindergarden to 6th grade. It was closed in 1975 leaving an abandoned building in the middle of 145th Street. In 1986 however it was sold to Reverend Grant who named it after M L Wilson. Reverend Grant unfortunately passed away a few weeks ago so Eugene Campbell is now in charge. The building was mandated to be built into a community center but more than 20 years after being left abandoned it is still a vacant building.

“The problem is the Mayor’s budget priorities,” said Ydinas Rodriquez, one of the supporters for this movement. “The problem is a city that puts jails before jobs, and a city that puts bombs before books.”

Brotherhood/Sister Sol, is a part of this community group. One of the programs in the Brotherhood Sister Sol is the Liberation program a youth run program that is meant to look into community affairs such as the rebuilding of P.S. 186. They have been fighting for four years to develop a positive, practical, alternative for teens in the community. They organized the Ujima Unidad Coalition which is now an independent establishment at the head of this effort.

Currently the push to turn P.S. 186 to a community center is very promising. Adriano Espaillat, member of the Assembly for the 72nd district was in attendance. All the local politicians have been contacted including Manhattan Borough President and Mayoral hopeful Virginia Fields. The Ujima Unidad Coalition are getting signatures for a petition that will be sent to Eugene Campbell along with all the politicians who are putting together the budgets. They currently have 4, 000 signatures and they are trying to get 10,000.
For more information you can contact Ujima Unidad Coalition, contact them at 212-283-7044. They usually meet the first Saturday of the month, but because of July 4th the next meeting is Saturday July 9th.

An exhibition has been created by local youth as part of their fight to transform the building into a community center. Through photos, video, audio, text, and interactive activities this unique exhibition tells the story of the past, present and potential future of P.S. 186. It is a free exhibition but donations are accepted.


|| Home Page | Welcome | Contents | Staff | Support Us ||

Back to the top

© Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. HarlemLive Inc ™