Ayo Harrington

Ayo Harrington has lived in the East Village since the 1960s, and been deeply involved in the community garden, urban homesteading, environmental, resiliency, educational equality, and civil rights movements. She first moved here as a teenager to live with her older sister, who was active in radical Black organizing at the time. Ayo followed suit, volunteering with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and attending Malcolm X Liberation University in North Carolina. She also got involved with reclaiming abandoned buildings as housing, including her own home in Alphabet City, which she completed in 1989. Ayo also advocated for the establishment of land trusts to enable housing ownership for people who had collectively reclaimed and rehabilitated residential buildings, and has led numerous efforts to transform abandoned lots into community gardens, including Orchard Alley. In the oral history, Harrington also speaks about her involvement in parents’ rights issues, the protection of the African Burial Ground, outreach about the prison system, and her work as co-chair of LESReady!, a disaster preparedness and long-term recovery organization that emerged in response to Superstorm Sandy.