Another Harlem Story: Canada Lee And H. Jack Geiger, 1940

Canada lee and Jack-GeigerHere’s another of one of those wonderful Harlem stories. Harlem born Canada Lee met and was an influence on H. Jack Geiger, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

They met in 1940, when Geiger, a 14-year-old middle-class Jewish runaway, was backstage at a Broadway production of Native Son.

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Lee agreed to take Geiger in when he showed up at his door in Harlem asking for a place to stay. Geiger stayed with Lee for over a year (with the consent of Geiger’s parents), and Lee took on the role of surrogate father. During his time with Lee in Harlem, Geiger was introduced to people like Langston Hughes, Billy Strayhorn, Richard Wright, and Adam Clayton Powell. After many years of varied experiences and an on-going friendship with Lee, Geiger eventually became a journalist, then a doctor.

This event was recorded in an interview given by Geiger on This American Life listen to here.

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