People’s Hall of Fame

2000 Honorees

Marjorie Eliot

for hosting Sunday concerts in her parlor to preserve the heritage of Harlem jazz

Every Sunday for the past eight years—rain or shine, with no vacations—a jazz concert takes place in the parlor of Marjorie Eliot’s home on what she calls the northern tip of Harlem. The weekly parlor concerts, which are open to the public and feature some of the best jazz musicians in New York City, started as a memorial to her son Philip, who died in 1992. Her husband, internationally known percussionist Al Drears and her son, pianist Rudel Drears, are among the performers who honor Philip and the heritage of Harlem jazz each Sunday afternoon. The parlor, at 555 Edgecombe Avenue in Manhattan, has roots in Sugar Hill’s glory days. “…this building has a very rich musical legacy. This neighborhood was Irish and German, and when it opened up and they started letting Blacks live here, they wanted people who could pay the rent, I guess—and people in show business could pay the rent. Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, and Charles Buchanan, who owned the Savoy Ballroom, all lived here—it’s a landmarked building.” As a child, she remembers visiting her uncle, who had an apartment in the building, “you could always here the muuuuuusic in the building.”

Dick Zigun

for founding the Mermaid Parade and Coney Island, USA

“It’s the place where the hot dog, the roller coaster, the notion of an enclosed amusement park, and the format for the 10-in-1 side show were all invented. It’s the oldest amusement park in the U.S. If there’s going to be one place in all of America to preserve popular theatrical forms-Coney Island is the right place.” ~Dick Zigun

Dick Zigun’s spiel about Coney Island is matched by his tireless battle to preserve what little is left of old time Coney Island. He has testified to save the old Parachute Jump (now a national landmark) and played a part in designating the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel as national landmarks. In addition to opening the Coney Island Museum, he brainstormed to build on the old Coney Island tradition of Mardi Gras parades that had faded on Coney by the late 1950s. In 1983, he founded the Mermaid Parade, now one of the City’s anxiously anticipated annual celebrations. New York City has been loath to support Coney Island, despite its history. Dick, a graduate of Bennington College and the Yale School of Drama, has been a lone voice who has single-handedly kept the ethos of Coney Island in the public eye.

Hindu Temple Society of North America

for beautifying the borough of Queens with cultural and religious arts

With more than 18,000 devotees from all over the United States, the ornate temple on Bowne Street in Flushing, Queens is not only the center of New York’s Hindi community, but also a cultural center that helps to beautify the Borough of Queens with a wide array of cultural and religious arts. Consecrated in 1977, Ganesha Temple is an elegant, gracious place to worship. Committees plan and decorate floats and chariots that parade proudly through the streets of Flushing during Hindu festivals. Temple classes in instrumental music, vocal traditions, language, religion, and classical and folk dance styles help the community pass down knowledge to the children. The frequent discussions, festivities, and theatrical, music, and dance performances held by the temple foster a sense of belonging for all generations. As Dr. Uma Mysorekar, the current President, drives the temple’s expansion, she strives to be a good neighbor to other Flushing residents, and reaches out to Hindus all over. This flexible approach makes Hinduism especially adaptable, some experts believe, to thriving in new situations without changing the basic tenets of its thousand-year-old tradition. Learn more about Ganesha Temple

Ramon Rodriguez, Louis Bauzo, and the Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts

for creating a home for Latin music

For close to thirty years, Ramón Rodríguez has led the Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts (a division of Boys Harbor, Inc., located at Fifth Avenue and 104th Street) in its efforts to preserve, perpetuate and celebrate New York’s Latin music legacy. Under his stewardship the Conservatory has become known internationally as the leading school for Latin music training, from Afro-Caribbean traditional music to contemporary Salsa and Latin jazz with over 1,000 students each year, many of them from low-income areas.

For the past twenty years, Louis Bauzó has been the Director of the Harbor Conservatory’s Latin Percussion Program, conductor of the Harbor Big Band and Co-Founder/Curator of the RAICES (Roots) Latin music archive. Louis is a recognized authority on Afro-Caribbean folk culture and has performed and/or recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Machito, Eddie Palmieri, Johnny Pacheco, Celia Cruz, and Paul Simon among others.

In 1979, Rodríguez and Bauzó established the RAICES music archive, considered the largest collection of materials documenting the development of Afro-Caribbean based Latin music in New York. Now an unparalleled 15,000-piece collection, RAICES includes original manuscripts by major artists, rare photos, video, audio recordings, periodicals, oral histories, artists profiles, artifacts, instruments, and memorabilia of some of Latin music’s greatest artists. With support from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, the Harbor is committed to the long-term goal of creating the RAICES Museum as a permanent museum and archive.

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