What was Harlem before its Renaissance, and how did it come to be? In Philip Payton: The Father of Black Harlem (Columbia University Press, 2021), historian Kevin McGruder, Associate Professor at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, explores the life of the remarkable Philip Anthony Payton Jr., a real estate entrepreneur who bought building after building at the turn of the 20th century in the core of Harlem, defined as 125th St. to 135th St. between 5th and 8th Avenues. In doing so, McGruder uncovers much about Black life in New York during the period between the Civil War and the Great Migration and makes an important contribution to the history of housing segregation in the United States.
David Hamilton Golland is professor of history, coordinator of humanities, and president of the faculty senate at Governors State University in Chicago's southland. @DHGolland.