Charles Wilson was born in Harlem in 1930 at the start of the Great Depression. He and his brother lived with his mother and four aunts in a six-room apartment. Wilson was educated by the Handmaids of Mary, a religious order of Catholic nuns. Wilson believes his early education was a transformative experience, as the nuns provided the little things that turn a life toward achievement. After his mother died, Wilson and his brother were raised by an uncle. In 1953, he enlisted in the Army and served in the Korean War. But after the war, he returned to Harlem, where he created a program to teach entrepreneurship to young people. (Summary written by: Nancy Broderick)
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This is a neighborhood oral history project that works to both preserve and document Harlem history through the stories of people who have experienced it. This project will collect oral histories of people who have lived or worked in the surrounding Harlem neighborhood and train community members to conduct these interviews. Both longtime and more recent residents are invited to share their neighborhood stories, documenting Harlem’s past and present history. Interviews will be preserved at The Milstein Division, available in a circulating collection, and accessible here at the New York Public Library website.