The Legacy of HarlemLIVE: Youth Empowerment Through Journalism and Experiential Learning

Rich Calton and The HarlemLIVE Alumni

Publisher: HarlemLIVE Publishing Pages: 430 Price: (paperback) $14.95 ISBN: 9781733471381 Reviewed: May, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

Rich Calton, a teacher and the founder of HarlemLIVE, shares the inspiration behind and lessons learned from spearheading a youth-led journalism organization that left a lasting impact.

HarlemLIVE thrived from 1996 to 2011. Organized by Calton to foster creativity, teach skills, and cultivate confidence, HarlemLIVE was an Internet-based periodical that involved young people reporting on their neighborhood through live interviews, written features, photographs, and video.

Calton begins the book with a description of his teaching years and theories about learning that, after he moved away from the classroom, led him to establish these volunteer efforts and recruit former students for the task. The book’s middle chapters sketch the lifespan of HarlemLIVE from its early days to its growing pains, including struggles to find funding and space. Calton recounts the challenges and celebrates the accolades, awards, and support the students earned.

From this nostalgic retrospective, Calton draws advice on basic details, like finding insurance, and big-picture elements, such as how to “empower [students] to excel and achieve outcomes that surpass expectations.” Throughout, Calton downplays the enormous investment of his own time and energy in HarlemLIVE’s success, and the unique situation of having a white man in charge of a program that primarily benefits underprivileged kids of color.

Testimonials from alumni and mentors dot the narrative, confirming the sense of agency, joy, pride, and learning that students developed. Concluding chapters share Calton’s strategies for running a successful youth program, tips on training young journalists, updates on where alumni are now, and resources for readers.

The writing in the narrative sections is crisp and propulsive, and while Calton’s conclusions aren’t necessarily unique, the hope to inspire others is sincere. Even if HarlemLIVE was lightning in a bottle, other educators and advocates can mine much from Calton’s work building opportunities for kids to have once-in-a-lifetime experiences, including meeting Michael Jackson, Oprah, and President Obama, and to nurture lasting skills.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

Author's Current Residence
New York, New York
Available to buy at: