This curated collection focuses on the former residences of influential “in the life” African-American writers, performers, and activists, most 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, activism, and/or public speaking, they 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 girls. 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 (9)

437 East 12th Street
Ernestine Eckstein was an influential lesbian of color who was active in the LGBT rights movement in the pre-Stonewall years. While living in this tenement building, from 1964 until 1968,... Learn More
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
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
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
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
337 Bleecker Street
From 1953 to 1960, playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry resided in the third-floor apartment of this building. While here, Hansberry lived parallel lives: one as the celebrated playwright of A... Learn More
Building 7, Penn South
Bayard Rustin, one of the most important yet little-known figures of the Black civil rights movement, lived in an apartment in this Chelsea building complex from 1962 to 1987 (his... Learn More
137 West 71st Street
Literary icon and civil rights activist James Baldwin used this Upper West Side remodeled rowhouse as his New York City residence from 1965 until his death in 1987. Although he... Learn More
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