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


Date posted:03-9-02

Renaissance Man

by Justin Young
Photos by Nkrumah Tinsley


Howard Porter worries that the Harlem community has lost it cultural heritage at a time of enormous development.

As director of special projects for the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ), Porter wants to make sure the area’s rich culture remains intact as the area undergoes massive change and renovation.

As Harlem finds itself undergoing yet another renaissance, its doors have, as if “swung” open, flooded themselves with tourists and new tenants. The community no longer caters solely to the needs of Blacks and Latinos. Its population now includes a multitude of races; from German to Japanese, Harlem streets are filled with new faces, new backgrounds, new stories, and new opportunities.

Porter praises the recent relocation of former President Bill Clinton’s offices into Harlem. The move has sparked a chain reaction that has brought new businesses which have helped to revitalize the once struggling community by creating new jobs.

Despite this, Porter wants to ensure the arts that made Harlem what it is, are not ignored. "What is missing from the UMEZ group is someone who has an ear to what is happening in the streets with the kids, who has an idea as to the happenings in the arts. That person should also be making strides to help inspire kids to be more involved in dance and music programs and also theater,” said Porter.

Mr. Porter, relatively new to the UMEZ group, has already orchestrated the opening ceremonies for Clinton’s first day in his new offices, as well as events and funding for the Aaron Davis Hall, the Dance Theater of Harlem, and several youth based organizations such as Boys Harbor.

Both government and state funded, UMEZ is a nationwide initiative designed to revitalized distressed rural and urban American communities. Its mission is to help stimulate change in both the Harlem and Washington Heights communities by funding new businesses.

The Harlem USA building on 125th St. lists as just one of UMEZ’s many accomplishments. The building houses the renowned Magic Johnson Theater, along with Old Navy and The Disney Store. This has allowed Harlem residents to once again shop and work in their own neighborhood.

By working at UMEZ, Mr. Porter feels that he has the opportunity to reach out to programs that deal in the arts, helping to cultivate them within the community. Helping to fund such distinguished establishments as the Apollo Theater and the Aaron Davis Hall, he has definitely lent a supportive hand in helping to keep the arts a part of Harlem.


© Copyright HarlemLive® 2002 All Rights Reserved

|| Home Page | Welcome | Contents | Staff ||

Back to the top