African American Studies
Interviewee: Leroi Archible [Interview 1]
Interviewer: Dr. Mark Naison, Jim and Kevin
Transcriber: Gregory Peters
Summarized by: Daniel Matthews
Leroi Archible is a Bronx community leader, youth athletics coach, political organizer, and long time Bronx resident. He was born in Memphis and lived in Lola, Kentucky during his high school years. His father emigrated from St. Ann’s in Jamaica in 1928, and his mother was born in Tennessee. He grew up visiting his Jamaican relatives in Morrisania, and he moved to the Bronx after he left the Marine Corps. Archible attended Kentucky State from 1947-1950. He met his wife in 1962, and they have seven children between them. Archible was part of the first group of African-Americans to be integrated into the Marine Corps. He became a tank repairman and served in the Korean War. His platoon was almost entirely white, and he was the subject of racism on the part of superiors, other Marines, and local Koreans. In 1960, he left the Marine Corps because of the racism he experienced, and went to work in the Garment District downtown. As a young man, Archible heard Latin music at clubs such as the Hunts Point Palace and went to Club 845, which had a bar, live music, illicit strip dancers, and mob connections. He also spent time at Jazz spots like the Palladium and Jobos on Prospect Ave and 69th Street. Other live music venues included Goodson’s on 69th Street, The Fair Tree, and Freddie’s. He knew some of the local doo-wop musicians as well, and worked with them in his outreach programs. Heroin use became a problem with Bronx youth, and gangs such as the Five Percenters, the Black Spades, and the Ghetto Brothers were increasingly active. As the economy declined, apartments in Morrisania were being burnt out. Archible and his wife lived in Harlem and then Morrisania before moving to the North Bronx, where his family were the first African-Americans in their neighborhood. He worked as the superintendent of his building and a groundskeeper for the Parks Department. He stayed involved in community outreach in Morrisania, creating the Morrisania Youth and Community Service Center. He also organized youth athletics programs with the Bronx Colt Youth Services and the Tremont Improvement Program. In the 1970s, he entered politics with Ramon Velez and the Anti-Poverty Program. He continued working with the Jackson Democratic Club, and he helped to found the Street Workers Inc., a corporate-sponsored organization of working class men. His community outreach extended to music as well, and he held dances and talent shows to raise money for Bronx youth and limit gang activity.
Archible, Leroi. January 26, 2004. Interview with Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University.
Click below to download supplemental content.Archible, Leroi Interview 1.mp3 (84753 kB)