To get the most out of reading The Contender, the student should have some understanding of the historical and cultural context in which the story takes place. History and culture are one in the Harlem of the 1960s, and some knowledge of that setting helps in appreciating Alfred and his world.In 1658, a Dutch governor named Peter Stuyvesant named a village on northern Manhattan Island "Nieuw Haarlem" after Haarlem in the Netherlands. Africans, slaves of the Dutch West India Company, built the first road into the area in the seventeenth century. African American slaves worked the land for Dutch and, later, English farmers for nearly 200 years. In 1790, one third of the area's population was made up of slaves. The village developed as a fashionable white suburb of New York City in the 1800s. Real estate prices soared but later collapsed due to excessive
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African American slaves, Dutch West India, northern Manhattan Island, fashionable white suburb, Lenox Avenue subway