overview

This curated collection focuses on the former residences of influential “in the life” African-American writers, performers, and activists, all of whom were associated with Harlem, a neighborhood that has been home to a significant portion of the black LGBT community since the 1920s.

These individuals spent all or part of their lives working during a racially segregated and homophobic era; through their writing and/or public speaking, Bayard Rustin, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Mabel Hampton were actively involved in the civil rights and LGBT rights movements.

We are in the process of adding more sites related to African Americans and other communities of color (such as Latino and Asian American) and would like to hear from you if you have suggestions.

Header Photo caption

At a September 18, 1963 New York City press conference, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin and activist and author James Baldwin call on President John F. Kennedy to intervene in Alabama Governor George Wallace’s handling of protests that were held after the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham killed four black children. They hold an arm band to be worn at an NYC rally on September 22. Photo by the Associated Press.

On the Map

 

Featured Historic Sites (8)

A
580 St. Nicholas Avenue
Legendary black performer Ethel Waters lived in this apartment building from at least 1925 to 1927, when she was well known in Harlem's lesbian circles. During this time, an important... Learn More
B
315 Convent Avenue
Jazz great Billy Strayhorn lived here with his partner, jazz pianist Aaron Bridgers, from 1939 to 1948, though Strayhorn stayed until 1950. During these years, the openly gay Strayhorn forged... Learn More
C
639 East 169th Street
Mabel Hampton was an African-American performer during the Harlem Renaissance and, in the 1970s and ‘80s, a key member of the Lesbian Herstory Archives. An icon of the New York... Learn More
D
20 East 127th Street
Langston Hughes, celebrated poet and leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance, lived on the top floor of this Harlem rowhouse from 1947 to 1967. While here, Hughes wrote many notable... Learn More
E
112 Waverly Place
Using a portion of the profits from her wildly successful play A Raisin in the Sun (1959), the first African-American woman’s work seen on Broadway, Lorraine Hansberry purchased this residence... Learn More
F
Building 7, Penn South
Bayard Rustin, one of the most important yet little-known figures of the civil rights movement, lived in an apartment in this Chelsea building complex from 1963 to 1987 (his death).... Learn More
G
137 West 71st Street
Literary icon and civil rights activist James Baldwin owned this Upper West Side remodeled rowhouse from 1965 until his death in 1987, using it as his residence when in New... Learn More
H
207 St. Paul's Avenue
Acclaimed black lesbian feminist, writer, and activist Audre Lorde lived here with her partner and two children from 1972 to 1987. While here, Lorde was a prolific writer who authored... Learn More