Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) led officials and community leaders during a press conference in opposition to recent efforts by developers to rename Harlem.
“Harlem is a treasure of New York and has long stood as the center of black culture and African American history,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat. “I along with leaders and constituents of this community stand united to vigorously oppose the renaming of Harlem in yet another sanctioned gentrification. This is an incredibly insulting attempt to disown Harlem’s longtime residents, legacy, and culture – and we simply will not stand for it.”
"The community has spoken loud and clear: callous and exploitative attempts to rename the Village of Harlem will not be tolerated. Efforts to rebrand our historic neighborhood as "SoHa" not only ignores the innovators and institutions that came before, but aids in the displacement of families and long-time residents of Harlem" said NYS Senator Brian A. Benjamin.
“Harlem is and will always be a transcendent community and no self-interested businesses or landlords will ever change this fact. Long the epicenter of African American culture--a place that brought the world Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes--the cultural significance of Harlem is unassailable and the name resonates in the minds of millions. Not only is the notion that any portion of this historic community be named “SoHa” ridiculous on face, it likely does a disservice to those looking to promulgate the name, as tourists from around the world make a note to stop in Harlem on their visits New York. The fact remains that Harlem will always be Harlem and no amount of whitewashing promotion can change this,” said NY City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez.
In addition to NYS Senator Benjamin and NYC Councilman Rodriguez, Rep. Espaillat was joined at today’s event by former New York Governor David Paterson, Councilman Bill Perkins, former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, and others.
Rep. Espaillat has long been a vocal critic of the proposed name change of Harlem to “SoHa” and the purpose of this press event was to stand united with community leaders to reaffirm his support of the Harlem neighborhood, its historic landmarks, and legacy. Rep. Espaillat will introduce a House Resolution in Congress titled, Supporting the Protection of the Name Harlem