President Barack Obama’s decision to hold last night’s $30,000-a-plate fundraiser in Harlem had the added benefit of getting the neighborhood some exposure while helping to replenish the Democratic National Committee’s warchest, according to State Senator Bill Perkins.
“These people are pretty sophisticated and well-endowed financially but also may not have known of the place called the Studio Museum in Harlem,” said Perkins, a Harlem native who attended the event. “It was a twofer from that point of view. It was, ‘Thank you,’ and also, ‘This is a hip place you might want to check out in the future.'”
Attendees dined at Red Rooster before heading to Studio Museum for the speech, both of which are relatively new and popular venues that reflect Harlem’s rising trendiness. Perkins said that the majority of them were big-money donors whose loyalty ran to the early days of the Obama campaign.
“Those folks who were his former supporters would have joined him anywhere, so it wasn’t about the money,” he said. “It was, strategically speaking, how do you get the most out of it? And I think those folks coming up to the Red Rooster and getting some fine dining while being exposed to a new experience in this historic neighborhood, that’s all to the good.”
Assemblyman Keith Wright characterized the crowd as a mix of “regular community folks as well as some more well-heeled people,” although it’s not clear which regular community folks have $30,000 to spend on a speech.
“I thought it was very representative of people from the Harlem community, but it wasn’t just for the Harlem community,” Wright said. “It was for all of New York.”
Other Harlem heavies in attendance included Congressman Charlie Rangel, Council member Inez Dickens and former Mayor David Dinkins.