African American Studies


Julia Loving, Summary of Interview with the Bronx African-American History Project

October 14th, 2020

Dr. Mark Naison and Alison Rini

Summarized by Amy Rini August, 2023

Bronx born public school librarian and high school educator Julia Loving’s parents were from Nelson County, Virginia. She has two older brothers, Jesse and Mark. Her grandparents were the only black store owners in 1920s Roseland, Virginia. In 1960, they moved up to New York City because their parents did not want their children to stay South in the height of Jim Crow. They met while going to colored schools and Baptist and Pentecostal churches at age 15. Her father was from an area called Shipman, Virginia; mother was from Roseland, Virginia, which is close to Lovingston not where the 1962 historical case that ended race based marriage discrimination, Loving v. Virginia, comes from that was Carolina County, Virginia. Julia is related through enslavement to the white Loving family. The white and black Loving family had a big plantation reunion a few years ago in Virginia.

Up north, the family had better access to employment and education. Julia grew up in the northeast Bronx, off Bronxwood Avenue and 220th Street,in the North East section of the Bronx. Relatives who moved north earlier hosted them initially, so Julia’s mother moved first and her father followed – they both had aunts, cousins, community, friends in New York as part of that Great Migration story. Then they moved to 871 East 220th Street, between Bronxwood and Barnes Avenue.

In the 70s, Loving’s family always played stickball, punch ball and rode bikes up and down the block with friends of many diverse backgrounds (Caribbean, African American, Puerto Rican and early on their Jewish and Italian families lived in this community– they could stay at each other's houses. There were mostly working class families on similar schedules and values. In the late 70s marijuana and then 1980s crack epidemic, she saw drugs destroy the lives of neighbors of all ages. She saw “friends that were on honor roll now trying to take their parents toaster ovens and microwaves” to sell. Since her dad worked for the Department of Housing, they moved to Eastchester Gardens housing projects and attended PS 121, a big, very mixed school because they had school zoning. Because her parents came out of the segregated school system, they pushed education for their children. When music was removed from the Bronx public schools, students started using desks and things for instruments, and Julia witnessed the Hip Hop era evolve, knowing Kool Herc and DJ Pumpkin. Julia chose to take two buses, one hour, to a mixed Preteaching academy at Walton High School and then SUNY Albany, and l and for over twenty years, has enjoyed teaching history, Africana history, working as a librarian leading book groups remotely day and night while living in the Bronx community Coop City.

Keywords: Africana, history, Loving v. Virginia, Bronx, PS 121, Hip Hop, crack epidemic, librarian, high school, church, community, Jim Crow, Bronx tenements, Coop City, COVID, teaching during COVID, remote teaching, race relations, music boxes, concerts