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harlem

From the LA Times:

Reporting from New York – The other morning, while tourists were lining up for an early lunch at Sylvia’s soul food restaurant in Harlem, Rodney Capel and Basil Smikle were finishing breakfast — and dissecting the travails of the local political machine.

Usually by now they’d be chewing over lists of Democrats eager to jump into primaries this fall and scoping out Republicans hinting at making a run.

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“But everything is in limbo, seized up,” said Smikle, sipping his coffee. “It’s just such a weird time.”

In the span of a few months, the ground seemed to open up and swallow New York’s first black governor, its black powerhouse in Congress and a beloved elder statesman, all products of the Harlem machine that for decades forced whites in New York and leaders across America to accept blacks as full-fledged partners.

The collapse of this dynasty has pained Harlem, and there are no rising stars to carry on. The new political elite is less interested in getting elected than in having influence in a broader sphere of the community. With their Ivy League educations, button-down shirts, blazers and jeans, the next generation represents a victory of sorts for the previous one, because the younger men occupy a place in society that the old guard could not have imagined.

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