Cultural Center Takes Over Harlem Firehouse for a Dollar

Traditional West African drummers from the performance troupe Songhai Djeli. (Photo by Line Krogh via Manhattan Times)

Traditional West African drummers from the performance troupe Songhai Djeli. (Photo by Line Krogh via Manhattan Times)

The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute will move into a vacant East Harlem fire station after purchasing the historic site on East 125th Street for the grand total of $1, reports Gregg McQueen for Manhattan Times – the result of partnerships with city agencies. A capital campaign, meanwhile, raised $5.5 million for renovations.

Founded in 1976, CCCADI’s mission has been to combine arts and advocacy to document African traditions that have been uprooted to the Caribbean and the Americas. The institute focuses on community issues and is meant to inspire the quest for social justice and cultural equality, said Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, President and Founder of CCCADI. “We are in service to the community,” said Dr. Vega.

While the center plans to open in the fall of next year, a “groundbreaking event” took place on Sept. 16 at the location, which saw City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, state Sen. Bill Perkins, Assemblymember Robert Rodríguez and others in attendance. The speaker and state senator were among those providing financial help.

Vega lauded the CCCADI’s future location for its proximity to the Harlem communities it aims to serve.

Vega said she was particularly looking forward to offering programs that highlight issues currently facing Harlem residents, such as obesity, gentrification and inequitable funding for public schools.

What kind of programs and events will the CCCADI offer? What is the historic significance of the 126-year-old firehouse? What kicked off the seven-year duration of the CCCADI’s takeover of the site? Find out at Manhattan Times.

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