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To Whom Does Harlem Belong?

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Harlem, New York — home to a famed cultural renaissance ... and an age-old debate over gentrification, some of which played out on today's show.

Tony Cox explored both sides of the issue, in conversations with the so-called "Queen of Harlem Real Estate," Willie Suggs, and Nellie Hester Bailey, executive director of the Harlem Tenants Council — a non-profit, social justice organization.

Suggs explained newcomers' migration to Harlem this way: "Nobody that I know wants to live in a slum. If you can bring crime down and eliminate vacant buildings, people will simply feel safer and want to move there," said Suggs.

But Hester Bailey added this cautionary note: "I am not one of those community activists who see development as all bad. ... But people who have stayed there [in Harlem] are being priced out, pushed out and harassed out by landlords who want to see a maximum return on their investment."

Though Suggs admitted the "face [of Harlem] is changing," she says "the culture is not going anywhere," adding, "the culture is even more vibrant because we have people now that have money to contribute to [cultural organizations]."

What do you think? Have you seen gentrification play out where you live? If so, tell us about it.

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