Theses Doctoral

They Chose to Stay: The Black Elite in Harlem

Jones, Myrtle R.

The history of Harlem as an epicenter of Black Culture can be traced to the late 1800s, with initial African American migrants to Harlem who were solidly middle and upper class. These migrants made the neighborhood their home, establishing businesses and investing in the community, but after the economic downturn of the 1970s and the rise in social problems, many fled. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, cities across the United States, including New York, experienced a resurgence. This resurgence in New York City did not exclude Harlem.

Using multiple techniques: observation; informal, semi-structured, individual, and group interviews; spot observations; autoethnography; and archival research. This eleven-year study documents the lives of the Black Elite Who Chose to Stay in Harlem, reviewing the rationale behind their staying. Some factors included a sense of belonging, fleeing microaggressions, leveraging class status to confront macroaggressions, and maximizing the economic opportunity of moving to a prime undervalued asset.

Engaging anthropology, Women’s studies, Black studies, and American studies, this study defines elites through the use of case studies and responses from the participants.


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2029-02-14.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Anthropology and Education
Thesis Advisors
Varenne, Hervé H.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 28, 2024