African American Studies
Interviewer: Mark Naison
Interviewee: Helen Gordon Bailey
Summarized By: Eddie Mikus
Helen Gordon Bailey is an attorney who had spent much of her life in the Bronx. As such, she has served witness to many of the developments that occurred in Bronx communities over the last few decades.
Bailey lived 854East 67th Street before moving to Morrisania during the 1930s . She was the daughter of two Jamaican immigrant parents, although he neighborhood was mostly Jewish at the time she lived there. As a child, Bailey attended Saint Anthony of Padua for first and second grade and PS 42 for grades 3-8. She completed her high school education at Evander Childs. In each of her schools, African-Americans formed a minority of the student body. During her childhood, her family joined St. Augustine’s church after it was opened by the Rev. Edler Hawkins. Additionally, Bailey’s father was politically involved through the local Democratic Party.
After completing her education, Bailey sought to enter law school. However, she abandoned her initial plan to be a labor lawyer after she realized that she disagreed with labor union tactics. She ultimately started to conduct probate work within the five boroughs. During her adult years, Bailey noticed several differences in the neighborhood which she had grown up. Most notably, she stated that Bronx neighborhoods had become places that had lost their sense of community and hygiene—something which she felt ruined her experience in the city.
Bailey, Helen. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University.
Click below to download supplemental content.Bailey, Helen.mp3 (84097 kB)