Broadway Celebrates The Spirit of Harlem

Broadway Celebrates the Spirit of Harlem
Gives Us Plenty to Celebrate

One of BC/EFA’s largest and most high profile events to date, Broadway Celebrates the Spirit of Harlem captured the spirit and heart of the community in a benefit at Harlem’s world-famous Apollo Theatre on February 26th. Proceeds from this event benefited Harlem United Community AIDS Center – the leading provider of services for people living with AIDS in Upper Manhattan and an organization of which BC/EFA has been a longtime supporter. With offices on West 124th Street, Harlem United provides comprehensive health care, supportive housing, HIV/AIDS prevention interventions, substance abuse counseling, psychotherapy, and parenting training to all of Harlem.

BC/EFA is committed to collaborating with organizations in neighborhoods in which AIDS continues to tear apart the fabric of family and community. In addition to benefiting Harlem United, Broadway Celebrates the Spirit of Harlem was presented in association with the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, a not-for-profit organization working to ignite the economy of Upper Manhattan. The Empowerment Zone plays an important role in continuing the resurgence of the economic and cultural renaissance of Central, East and West Harlem and the neighboring communities of Washington Heights and Inwood. BC/EFA was thrilled to play a role in uniting these two local organizations and is indebted to Terry C. Lane, Executive Director of UMEZ, and Howard Porter, Director of Special Projects, for their generous support and assistance.

Effects of this collaborative effort reached far beyond the one night’s performance. In addition to netting $100,000 for Harlem United, the event advanced public awareness of the organization at a time when the eyes of the city were focused on the revitalization of this historic neighborhood. Indeed, Broadway Celebrates the Spirit of Harlem captured national attention, appearing on the front page of The New York Times, as well as on national television news, due in part to the attendance of former President Bill Clinton. Prior to the performance, Mr. Clinton visited Harlem United by his own request (and without “benefit” of press coverage), where he was warmly received by the staff and over 100 clients living with AIDS. After touring the building, Mr. Clinton gathered with the clients in the cafeteria where he listened as they told him their individual, unedited stories. It was a very moving and empowering experience to everyone in attendance. Later, at the Apollo, Mr. Clinton, accompanied by representative Charles B. Rangel of Harlem and singer Roberta Flack, gave a the performance a standing ovation and was enthusiastically greeted by the cast backstage.

Directed by Mercedes Ellington, hosted by Phylicia Rashad and Maurice Hines, and featuring a cast including the inimitable Jennifer Holliday, Andre De Shields, B.J. Crosby, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, Jubilant Sykes, Harolyn Blackwell, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the casts of Stomp and The Lion King, and more, Broadway Celebrates the Spirit of Harlem was by all counts an artistic success. But it was also a success in a larger sense, a success of community-building, of working together, and of raising critically-needed funds for those in need, providing profound support of the invaluable work being done by Harlem United, and the impact of that work on the surrounding community. BC/EFA continues to make additional grants, as part of our biannual grant rounds, to many other community-based organizations providing essential services to people with AIDS and their families in upper Manhattan.