Sugar Hill, Where the Sun Rose Over Harlem
The Riverside Theatre (91 Claremont Ave., Manhattan)
Free, RSVP here
Using Harlem’s famous cultural institutions and memorable characters as her backdrop,
Terry Baker Mulligan writes joyously about weathering adolescence, while history unfolds
around her in the legendary neighborhood called Sugar Hill.
This feel-good story resonates with humor, warmth and wisdom as Mulligan chronicles her life among flamboyant evangelists, curly-haired Doo-Wop boys, snuff-dippers, Fidel Castro’s entourage, interracial marriages, chitlin’ parties and testy interactions between West Indian immigrants and Southern blacks.
Meet Mr. Big B, the neighborhood numbers banker; join Terry at Apollo matinees, where she is dazzled by Ella, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dinah Washington, Miriam Makeba, Eartha Kitt, and R&B newcomers like Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Neighborhood luminaries stroll the sidewalks: Mr. and Mrs. Thurgood Marshall with baby carriage; Sugar Ray Robinson exiting his pink Cadillac; and Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., politicking on the street corners. Young Terry befriends baseball’s Willie Mays in the local shoeshine parlor, paints posters for the 1957 March on Washington, and tries, but fails, to ingratiate herself into junior black society.
Sugar Hill is a living document of mid 20th-century Harlem. The story it tells will appeal to an America that knows the tremendous shaping influence Harlem has exerted on its national identity, both at home and around the globe.