"This book is a gem. Joe Holland—graduate of two Ivy League universities, all-American athlete, lawyer, social entrepreneur, business man, ordained minister, playwright , film maker, political candidate, actor, New York State Housing Commissioner, motivational speaker, real estate developer, community leader, and advocate for the homeless—gives a compelling account of his career to date, leavened by humor, motivated by a deep social compassion and undergirded by an unflagging Christian commitment. This book is an inspiration."—Frank Rhodes, President Emeritus, Cornell University
"This is an inspirational story of a man who turned his back on a life of comfort to comfort others less fortunate. His decades-long struggle to uplift Harlem is an engaging front-line history of the cultural capital of Black America, as well as an eye-opening story of people left behind and the tough work necessary to save them."—Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO, Harlem Children's Zone
"Joseph Holland reveals the complex dynamism of Harlem—the cultural heartbeat of Black America. His insightful details of the community's historical transitions make From Harlem with Love essential reading for all those who would Americanize Harlem. Holland's vision of Harlem is priceless, endowing this African-American Mecca with a cultural authenticity that raises the bar for old-timers and newcomers alike."—Wyatt Tee Walker, Former Chief of Staff, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; author; cultural historian
"Joseph Holland's experience in Harlem, the Black Metropolis, better focused his already keen sense of W. E. B. Du Bois' Talented Tenth. Like Du Bois, Holland was educated in America's best institutions of higher learning and dropped anchor in Harlem thereafter with an undeniable love of blackness and a thorough understanding of white America. To read his memoir is to take a journey with Holland and learn the ways of black folk—their history, their politics, and their cultural life, and, indeed, emerge a fuller and richer individual."—Woodie King, Jr., Founder, Producing Director, New Federal Theater
"Joseph Holland writes a personally riveting, articulate, and extraordinary, almost excruciatingly honest, confession of his on-going, passionate, unmitigated love-affair with Harlem—the cultural capital of black America. Mr. Holland is an authentic hero and a saint, and this black man's self-giving love-affair with Harlem is fueled primarily by the extraordinary love of God himself. I know, because for the past 22 years I have carefully observed both of these lovers—Mr. Holland and Harlem—and have witnessed both Mr. Holland's persistent wooing and Harlem's measurable transformations. Mr. Holland was a most unlikely suitor for Harlem—All-American Cornell football player, Harvard-educated lawyer, with culturally upper-crust black family roots, deeply devoted to teaching and modeling the Biblical work-ethic along with the Gospel. He came to Harlem at the deepest valley of her Blight and dramatically, deliberately, decisively coached her for her present New Renaissance. Mr. Holland's sincere passion for Harlem is evidenced in his persistent descriptions of her and her history in fascinating detail. What is so utterly precious in this book is Mr. Holland's brutally honest reporting of his own deep personal disappointments, disillusionments, distractions, and dysfunctions within their affair—and yet the living Lord worked in and through it all with extraordinary benefits for so many, and for Harlem. This is 'the rest of the story' of Harlem's current revitalization that absolutely no one else can tell, because only Mr. Holland has lived it so well, so thoroughly, so honestly. That is why when I started reading this vibrant, precious document, From Harlem with Love, I could not put it down, nor could I skim through any section. I could not bear to miss a moment of this dramatic, divine, passion narrative!"—Paul de Vries, PhD, president of NY Divinity School
"The great writer Sterling Brown once wrote, 'When you touch a book, you touch a man,' and Joseph Holland's From Harlem with Love is an elegant, generous, and provocative spiritual autobiography. Those of us who love Harlem will see much that we prize; those of us who worry about Harlem will confront our shared tribulations; and those of us who care about the value of human witness and courage—ideals that Joseph Holland celebrates in graceful prose—will delight. This is a superb memoir: rich with insight, humor, and self revelation."—Kenneth McClane, W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of Literature, Cornell University
"From Harlem with Love is a fascinating look at 'the more things change the more they stay the same'. The fight for Harlem's Soul has been an ongoing dream for those who understand that which is greater than self. Joe Holland picked up the baton and carried it quite a distance. Other soldiers will carry it a little further until one day voilà, the soul of Harlem will be found."—Marva Allen, CEO, Hue-Man Bookstore, Harlem
"This is an honest reflection on an amazing chapter in our country's history through the microcosm of Harlem, the black capital of the world. It's written by a true urban pioneer. It's a must read for those who must consider the price of real change in our cities. I want to re-read and discuss with those who have a love for cities and our country."—Glen Kleinknecht, National Representative, Here's Life Inner City
As a diplomat's son, star athlete, and Harvard Law School graduate, in the early 1980s, Joseph Holland had a world of opportunities awaiting him on Wall Street and in corporate America. Instead, Holland moved to the inner city, driven by a divine calling full of unfolding mystery and challenge. He found himself in Harlem during the nadir of its blight and endeavored to contribute to a neighborhood that was tough in every sense of the word. A Republican among Democrats, a privileged Southern scion among working-class Northerners, Holland earned his stripes as an entrepreneur/activist embracing a vision of personal and community transformation. A five-year sojourn became a three-decade commitment, as his Harlem-based career morphed from practicing law to empowering the homeless, to running small businesses, to writing plays, to serving in politics, to building housing—all aimed at revitalizing a beaten-down, dream-deferred cultural mecca haunted by poignant memories of its glory days in the early twentieth century.
Part memoir, part cultural and political history of Harlem, and part vividly depicted tour guide, From Harlem with Love
is filled with wittily mordant insights into a neighborhood that has touched the highs and reached the lows, and yet remains indisputably one of the most storied and vital centers of African American culture.