By James Estrin
On Aug. 8, 1966, The New York Times ran an article about how many Harlem residents wished more white people would visit to see for themselves their community’s reality. The article, by McCandlish Phillips, detailed in an almost anthropological way the Harlem of 1966 to Times readers.
“A curtain of fear, about as forbidding as a wall of brick, has made the black ghetto almost psychologically impenetrable to the white man — at a time when many in the ghetto sense that it needs the white man to help it save itself from a kind of psychological secession from a white society,” Mr. Phillips wrote.
The article goes on to note that many “Negroes protest that white people see Harlem in caricature” but at the same time stated — citing no authority — that thousands of children have shoes only for Sunday or none at all. Another Times finding was that “a surprising number” of residents prefer the word black to Negro, and “some are turning to the study of African history and African dress.”
Don Hogan Charles, then 27 years old, was assigned to spend a weekend documenting Harlem, where he lived. Mr. Charles was the first black photographer hired by The Times.