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Harlem On My Mind: Arturo Schomburg

Part 2: How a little boy from Puerto Rico helped shape a global Black identity.

About this episode:

Into America continues its Black History Month series, Harlem on My Mind, following four figures from Harlem who defined Blackness for themselves and what it means to be Black in America today. The series begins when Trymaine Lee acquires a signed print by Jacob Lawrence titled “Schomburg Library.”

The Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture is based in Harlem, but its roots are on the island of Puerto Rico with a little Afro Puerto Rican boy named Arturo Schomburg. Determined to collect a record of Black history that could tell us who we are and where we’ve been, Arturo Schomburg amassed a personal collection of 10,000 Black books, artwork and documents. That collection eventually became the Schomburg Center we know today, which is part of the New York Public Library system.

Trymaine Lee speaks with Vanessa Valdés, author of Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, Shola Lynch, curator of the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division of the Schomburg Center, and Arturo Schomburg’s grandson, Dean Schomburg to better understand who Arturo was and the impact of his legacy on Black identity and Black culture.

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Find the transcript here.

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