African American Studies


Crichlow’s family moved from South Carolina to the Bronx when she was just a baby. She attended the Catholic School Lady of Victory, which was right across the street from where she lived. She was the first black student to attend the school and wasn’t readily accepted. However, she notes that the Italian students would hold her hand and help her to feel more welcomed. The Irish students weren’t as accepting. She notes socio economic differences as the main reason behind the discrimination she encountered.

Her children attended St. Augustine, she would eventually become a substitute teacher there when here youngest on 10 children, Algson, went to school. St Augustine became St Augustine School of the Arts during Tom Pilecki’s time as principal. Students were encouraged to participate in music classes; theatre projects etc. during Tom’s time as principal, the school and church were really connected.

Adrienne Henessey moved into the Butler Houses projects on Webster Avenue in 1965. She recalls it being a nice area with all the amenities of the area at her disposal. However, by the mid 1970’s she was ready to move out because of the drastic change in the neighborhood. She sights drugs as one of the key causes of the areas deterioration. As a result of the deterioration of the community and the Bronx Fires, many people left the area and consequently the church. Therefore, the church was much smaller and this had a negative affect on the neighborhood as many church members helped out in the community.

Virginia Dorsett was the first black student at Mount Carmel in Mount Vernon in the early 50’s (unclear if it was 1953 or 1954). She recalls mild instances of discrimination. For the most part, her tough tomboyish mannerism helped decrease opportunities of harassmen.t Dorsett does recall one particular instance where an Italian boy called her the N word. The school took swift action in quelling the situation and disciplining the boy. Dorsett says that that incident taught the school how to deal with future racial bullying. Dorsett would then attend Morris Avenue School.

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Crichlow, Gertrude Pt 1.mp3 (89315 kB)
Crichlow, Gertrude Pt 2.mp3 (80901 kB)