What was Harlem like in the 60's, 70's, and 80's? One man who knew very well what it was like is Sam Walton - Harlem youth and community activist. He grew up in Harlem, eventually became a victim of the streets of Harlem, then pulled himself up to inspire and promote education in Harlem and to its youth.
Sam had begun to promote plans to help the people of Harlem. He fought the constant battle of keeping youth out of the streets and inspired them to not become a victim of drugs and crime that plagued the streets. Below is his introduction on how to improve the quality of life for people and how to begin the process of self-elevation. His plea to Harlem would not fall upon deaf ears.
Harlem, the political heart and social capital of black America is a culturally rich and vital community with strong neighborhood spirit and impulse toward self-help and improvement of the community's chronic physical and social problems that cry out for public attention. Harlem is a densely populated and economically poor community whose populace is on the whole the beneficiaries of the cumulative effect of poverty, overcrowded and sub-standard housing, under-employment and unemployment, inadequate education, illness and neglect belying society's failure to cope with basic human and social problems.
There were encouraging signs during the 60's through local, state, and federally funded programs to improve housing, regenerate commerce and industry, develop jobs, enrich education and recreation, and increase public service in the health care field. Many of these efforts have since eroded due to changes in federal policy and the city's fiscal crisis. Harlem is showing signs of losing its sense of community. There is general dissatisfaction with the functioning of the city's municipal services, and a feeling of apathy and hopelessness has begun to permeate the community.
As a neighborhood agency dedicated for the past eight years to stemming the tide of helplessness and hopelessness, WE CARE proposes to work inside its own community, St. Nicholas Park, as a centralized clearinghouse and neighborhood assistance center for all residents, public and private agencies, and self-help improvement programs in the area.