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Harlem 1948 Episode 1

In August 1948 Hollywood premiered “Miracle in Harlem” at the Apollo Theater in Harlem for the segregated African American audience. The film celebrated church life, small businesses, and the people of Harlem.

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In August 1948 Hollywood premiered "Miracle in Harlem" at the Apollo Theater in Harlem for the segregated African American audience. The film opens with a church holding its service in Aunt Hattie's home because she is afflicted with paralysis. Aunt Hattie, her niece Julie Weston and her boyfriend operated a family candy manufacturing business known for its original and delicious recipes. A scheming candy manufacturing magnate, Albert Marshall, steals the small candy company owned and operated by the church going family and sends his no-count son, Jim Marshall, to manage it. The tycoon's secretary conspires to take over the big candy company, and the whole scheme comes undone through a crafty trick of the grandmotherly church-lady, Aunt Hattie. Stepin Fetchit brilliantly performs his routine late in the film. Many critics have decried him for agreeing to play roles as the buffoonish African American, but his routine late in the film shows his genius as a performer. One can only wish that he had had a chance to unleash his talents.

Harlem audiences praised the film for its portrayal of mainstream Harlem life and the role Christian values in seeing them through the harshness of segregation, depression, war and crime in Harlem.

We will be playing clips of the movie this week.



Next: Harlem 1948 Episode 2 The Preacher

  • Thanks Jim! The whole movie is rich with scenes of the rich humanity of living by faith in Harlem. Duke Ellington once reminded an interviewer, "I always say that there are more churches in Harlem than cabarets."

  • A heartwarming scene, Tony!!

  • I like this too!

  • Like this!

  • You are so right to observe that our city's history is deeply entangled with religious history. Pete Hamill wrote a wonderful essay on the five New Yorks. In every New York faith is the most resilent dimension.

  • Don Richardson would be proud! Congrats for finding echoes of the Good News in every cultural corner of God's creation. From the Peace Child in Papua New Guinea to the "Bread and Circuses" episode of the first Star Trek series, the Lord has his people in place ready for the next wave of His servants to meet.

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