Judith Malina, living theater co-founder

Judith Malina co-founded the Living Theater with her husband in 1947 and they remained at the forefront of stage experimentation in the 1950s and 1960s. They were an integral part of the “Counter-culture” of the time. She was only 21 when they started the theater. She had studied acting and directing and remained involved in both throughout her life. Ms. Malina was born in Kiel, a port city in northern Germany, on June 4, 1926. The family moved to New York City when she was very young. She met Mr. Beck in 1943, when she was just 17, and together they attended… Read More

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Iris De La Cruz, AIDS activist

Iris De La Cruz helped found a support group for prostitutes and after she became infected with the AIDS virus, she started several groups for people like her. She started the first support group for positive women and another for hetero singles. She confronted people who looked at her struggle with drugs and prostitution and finally with AIDS as shameful and telling them she was not ashamed. She fought the stigma of AIDS, her body weakened but her spirit and humor never waned.  She was an inspiration to so many people. She did a lot in the short time she was… Read More

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Maria Hernandez, activist

Maria Hernandez lived in Bushwick Brooklyn and fought against drug dealers in the neighborhood. Maria was born in Brooklyn in 1953 and lived in Bushwick until 1989. She was educated at public schools in the borough and went to New York University for Accounting. Maria Hernandez and her husband tried to evict drug dealers from her neighborhood of Bushwick. They tried to stop them by rallying support for their efforts and educating her neighbors about the need to evict the drug dealers. She organized block parties and community gatherings. On August 8, 1989 Maria was shot 5 times through her… Read More

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Lillian Edelstein, tried to save her home in East Tremont

Lillian Edelstein (1916-2015) was a Jewish Housewife living in East Tremont in The Bronx. Her home and the home of her mother and sister’s family were in the proposed path of the Cross Bronx highway proposed by Robert Moses. She became an activist after realizing the highway would destroy her neighborhood and change the lives of people she loved forever. Most of the families in East Tremont were Jewish immigrants escaping persecution in Europe. East Tremont was considered a step up from living in the Lower East side. The homes were well sized and the people of the neighborhood were… Read More

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James Weldon Johnson, author, educator, diplomat, civil rights activist

James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938) was an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and civil rights activist. Johnson may be best remembered for his leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where he started working in 1917. Johnson established his reputation as a writer, and was known during the Harlem Renaissance for his poems, novels, and anthologies collecting both poems and spirituals of black culture. He was a prominent and influential voice of the Renaissance. In 1934 he was the first African-American professor to be hired at New York University.… Read More

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Lewis H. Michaux, bookstore owner, civil rights activist

Lewis H. Michaux (1895–1976) was a Harlem bookseller and civil rights activist. Between 1932 and 1974 he owned the African National Memorial Bookstore in Harlem, New York City, one of the most prominent African-American bookstores in the country.  Before coming to New York he worked as a pea picker, window washer and deacon in a church in Philadelphia. Michaux opened the African National Memorial Bookstore in 1932 on 7th Avenue and stayed there until 1968, when he was forced to move the store to West 125th Street (on the corner of 7th street) to give space to the State Harlem… Read More

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Holcombe Rucker, activist, basketball tournament founder

Holcombe Rucker (March 2, 1926 – March 20, 1965) was a playground director in Harlem for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation from 1948 to 1964. He founded the New York City pro-am basketball tournament, that still bears his name and is the namesake of a world-famous basketball court in Harlem. Rucker grew up in Manhattan and  started the tournament in 1950 at a playground on 7th Avenue between 128th and 129th streets. He insisted that education be a fundamental part of the Rucker League, in keeping with its motto — “Each one, teach one.” Through his… Read More

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