The Harlem History Club “…The Living Room Of The Harlem Renaissance,” At The Harlem YMCA 1930’s

June 3, 2016

John Henrik Clarke Willis Nathaniel Huggins John G Jackson Joel A Rogers Charles Seifort Richard 1The Harlem History Club, was a study circle founded by Harlemites in the heart of Harlem in the 1930s, it was based at the Harlem YMCA at 180 West 135th Street, New York, NY, sometimes called the “living room of the Harlem Renaissance.”

Participants and leaders in The Harlem History Club included Willis Nathaniel Huggins who also owned Blyden Bookstore in Harlem, John Henrik Clarke, John G. Jackson, Joel A. Rogers, Charles Seifort, Richard B. Moore, William Leo Hansberry, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Kwame Nkrumah.

The book Muslims on the Americanization Path?, stated that:

The existence of independent institutions or organizations devoted to the study African-American history is not a new phenomena. In 1934, Dr. John Henrik Clarke joined The Harlem History Club (which in 1938 was renamed, ironically, the Blyden Society, after Edward Wilmot Blyden whom cit in this text as one of the early pan-Africanist proponents of Islam). The instructor/head of The Harlem History Club/Blyden Society was Willis N. Huggins, a public high school history teach, a position of some distinction for the a black man sixty years ago. The club was a small circle of young bibliophiles and intellectuals, and include some African-American students; meetings were held at the local YMCA. Many of Huggins students in the Harlem History Club went on to become luminaries. Between 1934-1940 in Huggins class, the future historians John G. Jackson, J. A. Rogers. and John Henrik Clarke and the and the future African heads of tate Nandzi Azikwe of Nigeria and Kwame Nkumam of Ghana all rubbed shoulders with one another. See John Henrik Clarke, “The Harlem History Club: My First University,” the original draft, which I am citing from that has been reprinted in several publications including The New American and The Black Collegian and Barbara Adams biography, Clark: The Early Years (Hampton: UB & US Communication Systems, 1992).

Many of the members of The Harlem History Club were also members of the Harlem Writers’ Workshop in Harlem.

Check out more Harlem history here.

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