African American Studies


88th Interview

Interviewee: June DeVonish Brown

Interviewer: Mark Naison

Interview took place November 21, 2004

Summarized by Concetta Gleason 2-08-07

June DeVonish Brown’s mother was born in Freetown Village in Antigua and her father as born in Barbados. Brown was born in 1921 in Harlem Hospital. Her father was a jeweler and a superintendent, and her mother was a homemaker. In 1929, Brown and her family moved to the Bronx with her five siblings into a three bedroom apartment. Brown’s father was a Garveyite. Both her parents emphasized the importance of being educated and politics was always discussed at the dinner table, and her mother always cooked Caribbean meals. They moved into a Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx and she attended a Jewish elementary school where she met a lot of racism and prejudice form both the Teachers and the students. Her neighborhood was safe when she grew up, but her parents kept a tight reign and made the children be home immediately after school. The parents were weary of the local gangster, Mr. Shultz. Her father always insisted they attend Catholic Church, which she usually attended with her friends. Junior High School was less antagonistic and in High School she made many black friends. Although some of the history lessons and skills she learned at home conflicted with her teachers’ points of view leading to conflicts. She graduated High School intending to become a lawyer, but knew she could not go to school because she had to help take care of her younger siblings. She worked a few jobs and eventually became a nurse when she was 30 years old, and retired 32 years later. She attended many night clubs in downtown because there were not many in the Bronx, and she would play instruments and dance to Latin music. She met her husband in the Bronx and they continued living in the same neighborhood, which was populated with more African American and Caribbean people.

Brown, June.mp3 (59148 kB)

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Brown, June.mp3 (59148 kB)