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Sugar Hill 2016

Three Sisters and their Parents :  Discussion and Walking Tour

Sugar Hill Luminaries Lawn, 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue


Special seating for seniors and the handicapped



Melba Joyce, the Sugar Hill Quartet, the West Village Quartet, and​ an Operatic Duo with Angela Owens (soprano), Charles David Carter (bass-baritone), and Roy Jennings (pianist)

Louise Thompson-Patterson


Schomburg Center for Research In Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, Harlem, NY

James Room, 4th Floor, Barnard College, 2990 Broadway, New York, NY

Panelists, Herb Boyd and Terrance McKnight

Moderator, Felipe Luciano

Emcee Daa'iya El-Sanusi of WHCR’s

“Gardens of Tranquility and Contemplation” 

Many musical innovators called 409 and 555 Edgecombe home: From Andy Kirk, Jimmie Lunceford, Billy Strayhorn, Don Redman, Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Hodges, and Count Basie, through Paul Robeson, travel the journey with us all the way through to the era of Cassandra Wilson, with a stop along the way to revisit the Mizell family’s influence on the Motown sound and Smooth Jazz/ Fusion of the 70s. Will also present European Classical Music and highlight the contributions of Henry T. Burleigh and Clarence Cameron White.


Dr. Mamie Phipps Clarke


2016 When Sugar Hill Was Sweet​SM:
A Centennial Celebration of 409 and 555 Edgecombe Avenue

June-November, 2016

(Schedules and Venues Subject to Change)

Pride and Harlem History 

Panelists, Rich Blint, Ph.D., David Hadju, Gordon Thompson, Ph.D.

With a Performance by Pianist Rudel Drears , "For the Love of Sweet Pea"

Billy Strayhorn was one of the brave. He was gay and out, during an era that was far more unforgiving of homosexuality than the current period. This panel will present the gay community’s major influence on the arts and letters of the African Diaspora.  

Thursday, September 22, 6:30-8:30

Echoes of the Eras: Music From 409 and 555 Edgecombe—Concert and a Historic Panel Discussion


​Book Signing

Letters from Langston: From the Harlem Renaissance to the Red Scare and Beyond

Edited by Evelyn Louise Crawford and MaryLouise Patterson

This indispensable volume of letters between Hughes and four confidants —one of whom was Louise Thompson-Patterson, mother of MaryLouise Patterson—sheds vivid light on his life and politics. Letters from Langston collects the stories of Hughes and his friends in an era of uncertainty and reveals their visions of an idealized world—one without hunger, war, racism, and class oppression.

The "Talented Tenth" and the "Ninety Percent" On Edgecombe Avenue: The Power of Community, The  Realities of Dissension

Panelists, Jelani Cobb, Ph.D., David Levering Lewis, Ph.D., Mark Naison, Ph.D.
Moderator, Herb Boyd

Offers an expansive discussion of the intellectual and political legacies that the men and women of 409 and 555 Edgecombe Avenue left to the generations. Describes the broad, diverse political tendencies, from stalwart Communists, such as Marvel Cooke, to “integrationists” to nationalists, to anti-Communists. The influence and importance of Du Bois (William Edward Burghardt and Shirley Graham), Patterson (William and Louise Thompson), as well as Robeson (Paul and Eslanda), will be part of a compre-hensive discussion.

150th-155th Edgecombe Avenue Block Association

43rd Annual Block Party Right in Front of 409 Edgecombe Avenue

July 30, 2016, 12:30-2:00
Deuel Ross, Esq., Jerry Vattamala, Esq., Elizabeth Yeampierre, Esq.
Moderator, Joan P. Gibbs, Esq.

This important panel takes place right in the Harlem community, in front of the building that housed some of the nation’s and city’s most significant legal movers and shakers—all of whom, during the 20th century, shaped the legal landscape of the United States. The purpose of the panel is to analyze and encapsulate the aspects of American jurisprudence that were shaped by the denizens of 409 Edgecombe Avenue: How did these jurists alter the legal landscape?  What are their legacies? What communities, aside from Black America, benefited from these jurists’ legal acumen and struggles? In addition, one cannot discuss the jurists’ influence on the Civil Rights Movement, without mentioning the leadership of the NAACP, who resided at 409. They are W.E.B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and Roy Wilkins. The issues considered will bring to the fore the contributions of individuals that include Thurgood Marshall, William Patterson, Constance Baker Motley, and Bruce Wright. 

Leroy Burgess Birthday Dance Party with “DJ Laylo” Limbal

555 Edgecombe Avenue, circa 1940s, 1950s

Thurgood Marshall


For the Love of Sweet Pea: Closing Performance and Reception

Rudel Drears, Piano

A tribute  to Billy Strayhorn's genius.

*Columbia University, Barnard College Africana Studies Department; Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality; and the Heyman Center for Humanities (co-sponsors)

Saying Something: Voices of 409 and 555 Edgecombe Avenue

Directed by Barbara Montgomerey

With actors from the Harlem community

If one can describe an apartment building as "prolific," then it is probable  that 409 and 555 may well be two of the most prolific residences in the modern world. Dramatic interpretations of excerpted works by or about the intrepid Edgecombe Avenue writers, poets, playwrights, and thinkers.

Meet at 800 Riverside Drive

Saturday, July 30, 2016, 10:00-12:00

Tour Leader, Michael Henry Adams

The common architectural histories of 409 and 555 Edgecombe Avenue and 800 Riverside Drive are highlighted in this discussion and walking tour. The Tiffany-glass-domed lobby of 555 is extraordinary and is one of two in existence in New York City. The “Three Sisters” were built by Schwartz and Gross, and share a stellar architectural history. Also covered will be the history of Black ownership of these important structures.


Talks At the Schomburg: A Woman’s Work Is Never Done ——Panel Discussion and Book Signing

 Billy Strayhorn 

Jackie Robinson Park Bandshell

145th Street, between Edgecombe and Bradhurst
Friday, August 19, 5:00-8:00

A long-time resident of 555 Edgecombe Avenue, Leroy “Father of the Boogie” Burgess is a man of many musical talents and of great humility. Burgess sang lead on many of Black Ivory’s R & B hits in the early 1970s. He is known to write, arrange, sing, produce, and play keyboards on a single song. Burgess funked it up "Big Time" for Rick James and got "Over Like A Fat Rat" with Fonda Rae. He may not be a household name, but there’s a good chance that he had something to do with your favorite disco tune or house music jam. As writer, producer, arranger, vocalist, Burgess’s special touch can be felt on hits like “Mainline,”“Let’s Do It,” “Moment of My Life,” and going way, way back, “You and I” and many, many more. Burgess, a Harlem native, is steeped in the traditions of various manifestations of Black Music, from jazz to gospel, and received part of his musical education at the City College of New York with the likes of Herbie Jones, a colleague of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. 

Angela Owens, soprano

Leroy Burgess

Judicial Firsts, Judicial Influence:  Jurists in the House

Rudel Drears


Of the Cloth: Theologians, Ministers, and Christian Capitalists  

Speaker, William Seraile, Ph.D.

Moderator, Reverend LaKeesha Walrond, Ph.D.

From Daddy Grace’s enormous property holdings, including ownership of 555 Edgecombe Avenue, to the Reverend James Herman Robinson’s prototype for an international-aid organization that grew into the Peace Corps, the influence of a few of Sugar Hill’s African-American ministers will be revealed. This talk will give an overview of the role religion played in the activism and activities of the men of the cloth, who lived at 409 and 555, or who owned the dwellings. 

Saturday, September 3, 12:00-6:00

Panelists, Rosemari Mealy, Ph.D.; MaryLouise Patterson, M.D.; Karen D. Taylor , M.F.A.

Moderator, Tina Campt, Ph.D.

This engaging discussion will encapsulate the dynamic women of 409 and 555 Edgecombe, some of whom history has relegated to the background, eclipsed by the famous men they married. These influential personages include Shirley Graham Du Bois, Dr. Mamie Phipps Clarke, Louise Thompson-Patterson, and Eslanda Goode Robeson. 

A Day of Panel Discussions and Performances at Barnard College*

Friday, September 16, 10:30-6:30 

Sweet Daddy Grace

and his chauffeur

W.E.B. Du Bois

Meet at 800 Riverside Drive

Saturday, July 30, 2016, 10:00 - 12:00

Tour Leader, Michael Henry Adams

The common architectural histories of 409 and 555 Edgecombe Avenue and 800 Riverside Drive are highlighted in this discussion and walking tour.
The Tiffany-glass-domed lobby of 555 is extraordinary and is one of two in existence in New York City. The “Three Sisters” were built by Schwartz and Gross, and share a stellar architectural history. Also covered will be the history of Black ownership of these important structures.

Kick-Off Fundraiser with The Helen Sung Trio

In the Face of What We Remember:
A Movie-Trailer Release Party and Fundraiser
Featuring the Helen Sung Trio and Mistress of Ceremonies,
​Sheila Anderson, WBGO Radio Personality

3940 Broadway, New York, NY
​Saturday, June 25, 2016, 6:00-9:00

Enjoy the premiere screening of our documentary trailer. Regale

in the the sounds of jazz. Hors d' oeuvres and wine will be served.