African American Studies
Interviewer: Mark Naison
Interviews took place on September 30, 2003
Summarized by Alice Stryker
This interview is broken into 3 sessions. The first two are with an anonymous woman called “woman 1” and the third session is with an anonymous woman called “woman 2”.
Woman 1, who we later learn is Mrs. Jones, moved to the Bronx in 1947 to Oak Tree Place and Belmont where they were the only black family on the block. She was initially from Georgia, but moved to New York City when she was very young. Her husband was born in Harlem. They went to St. Martin of Tours for church. This church was mostly Italian and Irish, and they were the only African-American family to attend that church. Her and her husband had to walk their children to and from school, St. Martin of Tours, because the white children, who also attended that school, abused their children. Her husband owned a Laundromat on 180th between Arthur and Beaumont Avenue. After her husband died, she sold the Laundromat because people would frequently break into the Laundromat. After that, they moved to a live-in on Washington and 166th street. However they only stayed there a few years and then moved to an apartment 2 blocks north of Tremont. She had help from the community leaders, specifically Mrs. Ditz, in getting her children into college
She was very active in the community and put pressure on community planning board 6 to fix things in her neighborhood. She was very effective at doing this. What inspired her to become active in the community was the racism she experienced when she was living in close proximity to the Italians and Jews in the Arthur Avenue area. One of her biggest achievements was that she was able to find contractors that would start to rebuild neighborhoods in the Bronx that were destroyed by the fires in the late 70’s.
“Woman 2” came to the Bronx in the 1960’s and was in the beauty business. She worked for many beauty shops and opened her own. Her husband worked for the city, specifically with subways. She found it very easy to open a shop of her own because she had clients from her previous work. She moved into a bran new housing project but cannot recall the name of it. She opened a shop on 127th between Lenox and 5th Avenue. When she lived in Kentucky, she had a lot of white clients. However, when she moved to New York, he clients were all African-American.
She was Baptist and her husband was Methodist, but 3 of their 4 children were Catholic. The reason for this was because she believed Catholic schools were better. She would take her children to mass then go, herself, to a Baptist church.
She believes that she is so healthy at 90 because of her daily helping of sauerkraut juice. She learned this when she was a child from a woman who originated from the West Indies.
When she was living in Harlem and the Bronx in the 60’s she heard Malcolm X speak shortly before his assassination. She also participated in a number of marches and protests.
D'Augustino. September 30, 2003. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University.
Click below to download supplemental content.D'Augustino Part 1.mp3 (104651 kB)
D'Augustino Part 2.mp3 (105483 kB)