African American Studies
Interviewers: Mark Naison, Maxime Gordon, Dawn Russell
Interviewees: Annie Calhoun, Will Calhoun
Date: May 18, 2012
Summarized By: Eddie Mikus
Annie Calhoun has resided in the Bronx for over 50 years and is a leading community activist through her presidency of the Fish Bay Organization. Her decision to take up activism demonstrates the challenges that many minority groups face in American society as well as their to actively participate in governmental affairs.
During her childhood, Calhoun was raised in North Carolina in a family that, despite being African-American, owned land and grew tobacco. Every Friday night, she and her family would participate in a conference in which they discussed everything that they had done wrong during the week. Calhoun’s father also kept a number of wild animals on the family’s property and was well-known within the community. Furthermore, Calhoun’s father took an active role in his children’s education and informed them about the significance of the Civil Rights movement.
Calhoun moved from North Carolina to New York in order to attend New York University. She lived at first with her sister on Petrov Street. Her political activism with the Fish Bay Organization began when she noticed that students from the West Indies were being held back in school without just cause. Calhoun even ordered the schools to give a test to her son, Will, in order that he might be placed in an appropriate grade-level class. She has served with the organization for 40 years, and she held the office of president for 12 years. She credits the organization with helping to establish summer camps and after-school programs for African American youth.
The willingness of Calhoun to enter into community activism demonstrates that there are several challenges with African-Americans face over the course of daily life in American society. However, the Fish Bay Organization also demonstrates that these challenges do not need to be impediments, and that they can be overcome through community activism.
Calhoun, Annie. May 18, 2012. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University.
Click below to download supplemental content.Calhoun, Annie Pt 1.mp3 (2501 kB)
Calhoun, Annie Pt 2.mp3 (89721 kB)