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I know that blood is also flowing through those streets and that the human damage there is incalculable.
We never lived beyond these boundaries; this is where we grew up.
Walking along 145th Street -- for example -- familiar as it is, and similar, does not have the same impact because I do not know any of the people on the block.
The Negro proprietor is still in the window, head down, working at the leather.
These two, I imagine, could tell a long tale if they would (perhaps they would be glad to if they could), having watched so many, for so long, struggling in the fishhooks, the barbed wire, of this avenue.
The existence -- the public existence -- of, say, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.
proves to them that America is still the land of opportunity and that inequalities vanish before the determined will. The determined will is rare -- at the moment, in this country, it is unspeakably rare -- and the inequalities suffered by the many are in no way justified by the rise of a few.Neither the speaker nor his hearers can possibly do this, of course, since Negroes do not own General Motors or RCA or the A&P, nor, indeed, do they own more than a wholly insufficient fraction of anything else in Harlem (those who do own anything are more interested in their profits than in their fellows).But these meetings nevertheless keep alive in the participators a certain pride of bitterness without which, however futile this bitterness may be, they could scarcely remain alive at all. They stay home and watch the TV screen, living on the earnings of their parents, cousins, brothers, or uncles, and only leave the house to go to the movies or to the nearest bar. " one may ask, running into them along the block, or in the bar.Published in the July 1960 issue There is a housing project standing now where the house in which we grew up once stood, and one of those stunted city trees is snarling where our doorway used to be. The other side of the avenue -- for progress takes time -- has not been rehabilitated yet and it looks exactly as it looked in the days when we sat with our noses pressed against the windowpane, longing to be allowed to go "across the street." The grocery store which gave us credit is still there, and there can be no doubt that it is still giving credit.The people in the project certainly need it -- far more, indeed, than they ever needed the project.The avenue is elsewhere the renowned and elegant Fifth.The area I am describing, which, in today's gang parlance, would be called "the turf," is bounded by Lenox Avenue on the west, the Harlem River on the east, 135th Street on the north, and 130th Street on the south.But when I turn east on 131st Street and Lenox Avenue, there is first a soda-pop joint, then a shoeshine "parlor," then a grocery store, then a dry cleaners', then the houses.All along the street there are people who watched me grow up, people who grew up with me, people I watched grow up along with my brothers and sisters; and, sometimes in my arms, sometimes underfoot, sometimes at my shoulder -- or on it -- their children, a riot, a forest of children, who include my nieces and nephews.The social and moral bankruptcy suggested by this fact is of the bitterest, most terrifying kind.The people, however, who believe that this democratic anguish has some consoling value are always pointing out that So-and-So, white, and So-and-So, black, rose from the slums into the big time.