African American Studies


Her family moved from Harlem in 1941. Her father was a Transit Worker in the Subway Division and her mother was a seamstress from their home. They moved into a 3 family house on Home Street. Growing up there was a rich street life. She saw the racial makeup of her street change from mostly German and Jewish to mostly African American. She attended PS 63 and really enjoyed herself there. The school was pretty diverse. Her family attended Caldwell AME Zion Church. This was a powerful force in her life and in the community. Even though she lived in New Jersey at the time of the interview, she still traveled to this church for service on Sundays. She participated in the Minisink Blue Bells through her church as an activity. Their church had an allegiance with St. Augustine.

During the summers her and her brother would go to North Carolina. As a child, she did not experience much segregation and racism. The only place she can recall experiencing this was at the movies. In the summers in the Bronx, she would go swimming at Crotona Park.

Music was a big part of her household. Her father played piano by ear and her mother sung. She took piano lessons and violin lessons. Because of this, she attended High School of Music and Art. Her neighborhood was very musical as well. People were literally singing in the streets.

The only time she ever felt afraid of the developing gangs was on Halloween. There were a lot of community programs to try and keep kids out of gangs.

College wasn’t pushed on her as a young woman, but neither was marriage. Many of her friends married in the early 20’s, but no one was a “teenage mother” as she calls young brides.

She began working at City Bank in 1961. After she got married and had her son, she moved to Trinity Avenue, near 156th street.

She discusses the clubs she went to. She danced all types of dances. Her husband was part of the Latin Preps, although her was African American.

She says that she did not feel like she was poor, although reflecting on it, it was clear that they were poor. Also, the movies were a form of baby-sitting. Additionally, she had very few experiences with racism. Her first experiences with a white man were with a gentleman who sold them useful household items. There were also a lot of black owned businesses and shops in her area. She thought that she could do anything, that nothing was holding her back.

In the early 1960’s her entire neighborhood burnt down because of an electrical fire a few buildings over. This was probably part of the Bronx Fires in the 60’s according to Dr. Naison. Her parents moved into the St. Mary’s House Projects.

She thinks that young people today are missing family dinners, something that was very important in her family.

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