The Harlem in Havana Project is a multimedia documentary project created by artist and documentarian Leslie Cunningham in honor of Leon Claxton's Black and Cuban stage production, The Harlem in Havana revue, one of America's most successful traveling shows that significantly impacted American entertainment in ways that still resonate with wonder today.
A celebration of our multi-faceted past and a path for the descendants of African-Americans and Latinos to reflect, embrace, and liberate their own stories from historical amnesia, this project aims to revive Harlem in Havana's rich entertainment history through a variety of thought-provoking content, including:
- The project website, harleminhavana.com
- a documentary film, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana
- a set of photography books, Brown-Skin Showgirls
- a poem dedicated to producer Leon Claxton
This project has cultural and social relevance because it teaches us more about African American and Afro-Cuban history and its mark on American culture. Harlem in Havana was the place where the future heavyweights of entertainment birthed new music, dance and comedy. This documentary project provides an opportunity for a whole segment of artists and performances to tap into this history and enhance their current art forms.
Back then it was a “colored” variety show with performance pieces, but today’s it’s an art form. This is where that history originated!