African American Studies


Interviewee: Jocelyn Lightfoot

Interviewer: Mark Naison and Natasha Lightfoot

Summarized by Alice Stryker

Jocelyn Lightfoot was an immigrant from Antigua and was born on October 6, 1946. She was number 4 out of 7 and her father was a mechanic and her mother a housewife. She had a very strict upbringing and did not go to many parties. For social activity, her family often went to picnics. She went to Christ theKingHigh School, which was a Catholic school although her family was Anglican. She first visited theUSin 1968. She was able to visit theUSfrequently because of her job with an airline. When she would visit theUSshe would stay with her aunt that was living in Harlem and she would go shopping in theBronx.

Her husband moved to theBronxin 1969, and a year later they were married at Trinity Episcopal Church of Morrisania. The congregation of the church at that time was mostly West Indian. The couple moved to a Kitchenette onClay Avenuein theBronx, which was always filled with friends and relatives. She mostly cooked Antiguan food, though the ingredients were not available in her neighborhood.

In 1972, the couple moved to Clark Avenue between Grand Concourse and Jerome Avenue. The building was pretty diverse. At that time, Jocelyn also started working for a telephone company. She was promoted several times throughout the years she worked there. Her husband at the time opened an auto repair shop which was on 167th and 3rd Avenue. He also operated a social club on White Plains Road and 226th street. Although this was a rough neighborhood in the 70’s, neither Jocelyn nor her husband were afraid they would be robbed. She had her children in the 70’s and didn’t find returning to work a problem. When she did have to return to work, her neighbors gladly took care of her children. During the 70’s however, she began to notice a change in her neighborhood. More people were breaking into apartments and the fires started at that time. She did a lot of traveling to other boroughs within the city and thought that some of them were nicer than theBronx.

When she moved to theBronx, her impression of African-Americans was that they thought West Indians were trying to take their jobs. Irish and Jewish people seemed to have no problem with the immigrants.

In May of 1982, they moved to Castle Hill to theJamieTowersprojects. She felt very safe there even though they had a bad reputation. Her neighbors were Italian, Irish, Jewish, and some Black Americans. When she moved to Castle Hill, she began attending St. Andrew’s Church. The congregation was mostly African-American and Caribbean with a few white families. She involved her children in the youth group and herself with the Episcopal Church Women’s Group. This group took care of the church and the coffee hour that took place after the service on Sunday and also worked on fundraisers. Over the years, she has seen the population of the congregation change to mostlyCaribbeanpeople. Also, there are some Africans in the congregation. She also details the many community programs the church is involved with. She also feels that the church helped young people stay out of trouble.

She felt that the neighborhood was very safe, even during the crack epidemic in the 70’s and 80’s. She eventually wants to move back to Antigua, but keep her apartment in theBronxincase she gets sick. All in all, she has had a very good experience in theBronx.

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Lightfoot, Jocelyn.mp3 (93272 kB)