NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — The 43rd Harlem Week Festival kicks off this weekend!

Voza Rivers, chairman of the Harlem Arts Alliance, and Clayton Banks, the Co-Founder and CEO of Silicon Harlem, stopped by CityViews to talk to 1010 WINS’ Sharon Barnes-Waters about the festival’s history and growth.

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Harlem Week started out as a one-day event in 1974.

“It was during the height of wholesale abandonment, a proliferation of drugs in the community,” Rivers said, adding that it was created as “a one-day celebration for those of us who stayed and didn’t abandon Harlem.”

EXTRA: Harlem Week Calendar OF Events

During the inaugural event, a ribbon cutting was held at 138th Street and Seventh Avenue, which was renamed Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard.

“It was the first time in the history of New York City that a street was renamed after a person of color,” Rivers said.

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The event has since grown from a day to a week to eventually a month.

“We were comfortable for a number of years with a week, but the request for the activities in the community was greater,” Rivers said. “We said that we’re going to be unique, only in Harlem could Harlem Week actually be a month.”

The theme of this year’s festival is “Harlem: Home Of Immigrants, Honoring New York’s International Diversity.”

The festival runs July 30 through Aug. 26.

For more info go to or call the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce at 212-862-7200.

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Watch the full interview above and find more CityViews here.