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On My Morning Walk, Chalk Messages Mark Path of Hope for Immigrants to City College

Every morning when I walk my son Teddy to the subway station at the corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and 145th Street in our Hamilton Heights neighborhood in Harlem, we pass a sea of young men and woman making their way from the trains toward City College.

Founded as the Free Academy of the City of New York in 1847, “it was established to provide children of immigrants and the poor access to free higher education based on academic merit alone,” according to the college’s website.

Alexander Hamilton’s home, ‘The Grange,’ with City College towering in the background. Image by Liza Schoenfein

After I wish Teddy a good day at school I turn toward home, walking with the tide of young people carrying backpacks; kids with faces so diverse — the school boasts a student body that represents over 150 nations.

They are all on their way to an institution of higher learning that’s turned out more Nobel Laureates than any other public college or university in the United States — a number of whom were Jewish, including Arthur Kornberg for physiology/medicine in 1959, Herbert A. Hauptman for chemistry in 1985 and Leon M. Lederman for physics in 1988. (In the early 1900s, as the number of Jewish students grew as a result of the migration of Ashkenazi Eastern Europeans to New York, the school did away with mandatory chapel attendance.)

This morning, our path was decorated with messages, one after another, written in colorful chalk on the sidewalk — messages of hope and peace and protest and inclusion. I tried to catch them all. Here’s what I saw.

We Are Lucky To Have Each Other Image by Liza Schoenfein

Freedom Demands Justice Image by Liza Schoenfein

In the immortal words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, ‘Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love…’ Image by Liza Schoenfein

Immigrants and Refugees Make Us the Country We Are Image by Liza Schoenfein

Hate Has No Home Here. Immigrants Do. Image by Liza Schoenfein

Alexander Hamilton himself (left) keeping an eye on the activity. Image by Liza Schoenfein

Liza Schoenfein is food editor of the Forward. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter, @LifeDeathDinner

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