From Harlem with Love
An Ivy Leaguer's Inner City Odyssey
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.