Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Blvd./Lenox Ave., at 135th St., 212/491-2200) is a world-renowned institution founded by Arthur A. Schomburg, a Puerto Rican of African descent who as a child was told that the Negro had no history. For the sightseer, the center’s most interesting attraction is its adjacent gallery (10 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 1–5 p.m. Sun., free admission), where a wide array of changing exhibits is presented.
Mother A.M.E. Zion Church
The Mother A.M.E. Zion Church, a neo-Gothic building (140 W. 137th St., between Lenox Ave. and ACP Blvd., 212/234 1544), was New York City’s first church organized by and for blacks. It was founded in 1796—originally downtown at 156 Church Street—with money donated by a former slave.
Also known as the “Freedom Church” because of its connection to the Underground Railroad, the church has had many famous members, including Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Paul Robeson, and Sojourner Truth. The church welcomes visitors to share their music and worship Services at 11:00 a.m. on Sundays.
Abyssinian Baptist Church
One of Harlem’s most famous addresses is the impressive Abyssinian Baptist Church (132 W. 138th St., near ACP Blvd., 212/862-7474, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.). It was founded in 1801 when a few members of the First Baptist Church refused to accept that church’s racially segregated seating policy.
The Abyssinian now has one of the country’s largest black congregations. The Reverend Dr. Calvin Butts is the Abyssinian’s current pastor, and he continues the church’s activist tradition. Sunday services, complete with gospel music, are held at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Visitors are welcome; arrive early to get a seat.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition