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Guide to the Sarita Daftary-Steel collection of East New York oral histories 2015.011

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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by John Zarrillo

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 01, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Daftary-Steel, Sarita
Title: Sarita Daftary-Steel collection of East New York oral histories
Dates [inclusive]: 2014-2015
Abstract: The collection consists of twenty oral history interviews (with nineteen narrators) conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel with residents (past and present) of the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. The interviews were conducted between January 2014 and February 2015. The project was designed to capture the experiences of East New York residents who lived in the neighborhood during the period when families of color (African American, West Indian, and Puerto Rican) moved in and White families moved out, and the resulting decline of services and quality of life that followed. This process began as early as the 1950s and continued through the rest of the twentieth century. Sarita Daftary-Steel is a community organizer who worked for United Community Centers from 2003 to 2013, most of those years as the East New York Farms! Project Director.
Quantity: 41.3 Gigabytes in 147 files, total running time: 32 hours, 22 minutes, 4 seconds
Call Phrase: 2015.011

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Biographical note

Sarita Daftary-Steel is a community organizer who worked for United Community Centers from 2003 to 2013, most of those years as the East New York Farms! Project Director. As of 2016, she is the Program Director for the El Puente Green Light District and Williamsburg Leadership Center. She attended Georgetown University, where she received a degree in sociology and government, and is also a graduate of the Leadership New York Fellowship, organized by Coro New York and the Leadership Caucus of the Community Resource Exchange.

Source: "Program Directors," El Puente, accessed November 28, 2016, http://elpuente.us/content/program-directors.

Historical note

The East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn was established as part of the Town of Flatbush in 1835 by John Pitkin. It became the independent Town of New Lots in 1852 and was then annexed by the City of Brooklyn in 1886. By the mid-twentieth century, the neighborhood was predominantly Jewish, with some Italian and Irish residents. Starting in the 1950s, African Americans from the Southern United States, as well as Puerto Ricans, began migrating to the neighborhood in search of employment in New York City. As a result of city government policies and real estate interests influencing residents to sell their homes, the neighborhood experienced a rapid demographic change, and most White residents had left by the 1970s. The area then experienced rapid decline in city services, a rise in crime, and an increase of gang and drug activity. Concerned residents formed a number of community organizations to combat the neighborhood's decline. As of 2016, the neighborhood is once again facing the possibility of major demographic changes as the result of gentrification and a lack of affordable housing.

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Scope and Contents

The collection consists of twenty oral history interviews (with nineteen narrators) conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel with residents (past and present) of the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. The interviews were conducted between January 2014 and February 2015. The project was designed to capture the experiences of East New York residents who lived in the neighborhood during the period when families of color (African American, West Indian, and Puerto Rican) moved in and White families moved out, and the resulting decline of services and quality of life that followed. This process began as early as the 1950s and continued through the rest of the twentieth century. In particular, the narrators discuss race relations, school integration, housing, community organizing, the rise of crime and drug activity, and neighborhood renewal efforts. Public housing, such as the Linden Houses and Starrett City, is frequently discussed. Local schools, especially Thomas Jefferson High School and George Gershwin Junior High School, are referred to throughout the interviews. Several of the narrators (as well as Daftary-Steel) were involved with United Community Centers, a local community activist and integrationist organization, whose activities are also discussed at length. In addition to the interviews, the collection contains digital photographs of some of the narrators.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Digital Photographs
  • Oral histories (document genres)

Subject Organizations

  • Fairfield Towers (Housing complex)
  • Linden Houses (Housing complex)
  • Nehemiah Housing
  • New York City Housing Authority
  • Starrett City (Housing complex)
  • United Community Centers, Inc

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Discrimination in housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Drug traffic -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School integration -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban policy -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Whites -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Oral histories can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal.

Conditions Governing Use

Rights to the interviews is held by Sarita Daftary-Steel. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. Please see the Oral History Note for guidelines on using Brooklyn Historical Society's oral history collections. For assistance, please consult library staff at library@brooklynhistory.org.

Preferred Citation

[Narrator Last Name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer First name Last name], Interview Date [Month day, YYYY], Sarita Daftary-Steel collection of East New York oral histories, [Object ID]; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Related Materials

The following collections also document the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in the mid-to-late 20th century:

N. Jay Jaffee photographs (2014.002)

Harry Kalmus papers and photographs (ARC.046)

Bernard Gotfryd color slides and photographs (V1987.003)

Related Oral Histories note

Brooklyn Historical Society holds the following related oral history collections:

Puerto Rican Oral History Project records (1976.001)

Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations oral history collection (2011.019)

Hispanic Communities Documentation Project records and oral histories (ARC.032)

 

Oral History note

Oral history interviews are intimate conversations between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share these recordings with Brooklyn Historical Society archives and with researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. Researchers will understand that:

1. Brooklyn Historical Society abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association (2009) and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.

2. Every oral history relies on the memories, views and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.

3. Transcripts created prior to 2008 serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. It may contain natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, repetitions that are common in conversation, and other passages and phrases omitted from the transcript. This decision was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns.

4. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator's speech while editing the material for the standards of print.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Sarita Daftary-Steel, 2015.

Processing Information

All oral histories processed by John Zarrillo, except for the Carmen Yeancades interview, which was processed by Shakeya Huggins.

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Container List

Barksdale, Mary, 2014 March 28

Biographical note

Mary (Griggs) Barksdale was born in the East Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, in 1931. Her parents were African Americans who had migrated from the southern United States to New York. She lived in the Bronx until the 1960s, when she and her husband bought a house in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. She continues to live in the Starrett City (Spring Creek) section of the neighborhood as of 2014. She was very active in community organizations, such as the United Community Centers and the Council for a Better East New York. She was also a local school board representative and president of the parent-teachers association at her son's school.

Scope and Contents

In the interview Mary Barksdale discusses her deep involvement in the issues of education and interracial collaboration in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. She relates how she arrived in East New York in the 1960s, as African American and Hispanic families moved in and White families left. Barksdale speaks in depth on her community activism, especially with United Community Centers. She was heavily involved with improving and integrating the neighborhood's schools. She also discusses her childhood and family, internal conflict at United Community Centers, her hopes for the future, and the worrying trends she sees in our current political climate. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at United Community Centers in East New York.

Subject Names

  • Barksdale, Mary

Document Type

  • Oral histories (document genres)

Subject Organizations

  • Council for Better East New York
  • P.S. 158 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • P.S. 260 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Starrett City (Housing complex)
  • Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Transit Tech High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • United Community Centers, Inc

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -x Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Busing for school integration -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Discrimination in housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Discrimination in mortgage loans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School integration -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Bristol, Carlos, 2014 July 29

Biographical note

Carlos Bristol was born in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, in 1940. His father was born in Brooklyn and was of mixed ancestry (African American and Dutch), and his mother was born in Brooklyn to Barbadian immigrants. As of 2015, he continues to live in East New York in the home his parents purchased in the 1960s. Bristol attended East New York Vocational High School (now Transit Tech Career and Technical Education High School), and then was incarcerated from 1958 to 1971. After his release he returned to East New York, and later earned a bachelor's degree from College of New Rochelle and a master's degree from Hunter College School of Social Work. Bristol has worked in various social service and community development agencies (such as the Fortune Society and Services for the Underserved), is active in community organizations (including the East New York Homeowners Association), and has run for City Council.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Carlos Bristol speaks about the African American enclave he lived in on Cleveland Street in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, his experience in school and involvement with low-level youth gangs, his imprisonment, and his return to East New York in 1971, after which he became heavily involved in community organizing, youth development and mentorship, social services work, and the rebuilding of the neighborhood through the Nehemiah housing program. He recalls many ways that he saw racism affect the community and the development of the young people he grew up with, and about the decline in services that followed the decline in White population. He also talks about his belief that there are plans in place that are likely to bring significant changes to the neighborhood in the future. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Bristol's home in East New York.

Subject Names

  • Bristol, Carlos
  • Youngblood, Johnny Ray

Subject Organizations

  • East New York Vocational High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • J.H.S. 64 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Nehemiah Housing
  • P.S. 158 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Transit Tech High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • United Community Centers, Inc

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Low-income housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban policy -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Cleveland Street (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Brown, Johanna, 2014 March 16

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Johanna Brown discusses moving to a predominantly Jewish section of the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, White flight and the decline of services in the area, racism and resistance to integrating public schools, interracial friendships, life at the Linden Houses and Starrett City, United Community Centers, the devastating effect of drugs on the community, the rise of crime and violence (including the murder of a school friend), and the effect of gentrification on the future of the neighborhood. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Brown's home in East New York.

Approximately twelve minutes of the interview has been removed for privacy reasons.

Biographical note

Johanna Brown was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1954. Her father was an African American who was born in Georgia, raised in Philadelphia, and moved to New York after serving in World War II. Her mother was the daughter of African immigrants from Cape Verde. In 1960, her family moved from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn to Ashford Street in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. The family later moved to the Linden Houses, and finally to the Starrett City (Spring Creek) section of the neighborhood, where she continues to live with her son (as of 2015). She attended PS 108, Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School for Girls, and Thomas Jefferson High School, and now works for the New York City Transit Authority.

Subject Names

  • Brown, Johanna

Subject Organizations

  • Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School for Girls (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Linden Houses (Housing complex)
  • P.S. 108 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • P.S. 158 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Starrett City (Housing complex)
  • Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • United Community Centers, Inc

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Drug traffic -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School integration -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Daniel, Lydia, 2014 July 21

Biographical note

Lydia Daniel was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, in 1954. She moved to the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan in the late 1950s and later relocated to the Bronx. Her mother moved from the Bronx to the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in the early 1960s, and Daniel followed in the early 1970s. She attended PS 184, James Fenimore Cooper Junior High School, Julia Richman High School, and the Wilfred Academy of Hair and Beauty Culture. She owned and operated a beauty salon in East New York for many years, and her son owns a barber shop (Cas Cuts) in neighborhood. As of 2015, Daniel lives with her daughter in upstate New York.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Lydia Daniel discusses moving to the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, owning her own business and the difficulties she faced securing loans, White flight and the decline of services in the area, integration, gentrification and affordable housing, moving from the US Virgin Islands to New York, and positive aspects of East New York. She also compares her experiences living in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, the Bronx, and East New York. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Cas Cuts, which is a barbershop owned by her son in East New York.

Subject Names

  • Daniel, Lydia

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Business enterprises -x African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Discrimination in banking -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Entrepreneurship -x African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Low-income housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bronx (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • Harlem (New York, N.Y.)

Davidson, Gary, 2014 June 10

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Gary Davidson describes his family's history in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, the effect the city's policy of planned shrinkage in the 1970s, White flight, changes on his block (Logan Street, between Liberty Avenue and Atlantic Avenue), East Brooklyn Churches and community organizing, the crack cocaine epidemic, police oppression, problems with school integration, and the importance of working together as a community despite racial and ethnic differences. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Davidson's home in East New York.

Biographical note

Gary Davidson was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1952 to second-generation German immigrant parents and spent the majority of his life in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. He continues to reside in the neighborhood in the house that his great-grandparents purchased in 1907, on Logan Street, between Liberty Avenue and Atlantic Avenue. Davidson attended PS 65 and the High School of Art and Design, and served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. He is an active member of St. Peter's Lutheran Church and the Green Party.

Subject Names

  • Davidson, Gary

Subject Organizations

  • East Brooklyn Congregations
  • Franklin K. Lane High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Nehemiah Housing
  • St. Peter's Lutheran Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Community activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Drug traffic -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Police-community relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Real estate business -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School integration -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban policy -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Whites -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • Logan Street (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Faulding, Anita, 2014 March 13

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Anita Faulding discusses living her life in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, especially her experiences with United Community Centers (UCC). She describes how she became involved with UCC as a teenager protesting against school segregation and how she later worked at the organization's integrated day care center. She also discusses living in public housing (Linden Houses and Fairfield Towers), White flight, and eventually leaving East New York for Long Island. Finally, she also speaks on public education, specifically on the effects of segregation and charter schools on students today. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Faulding's home in Baldwin, New York.

Biographical note

Anita (Fisher) Faulding was born in the Bronx, New York in 1950 into a Jewish family. Her family moved to the Linden Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1957. She became a member of United Community Centers, a local integrationist organization, as a teenager. Faulding attended PS 213, George Gershwin Junior High School, Thomas Jefferson High School, and Brooklyn College. After graduating college she moved to Fairfield Towers, and then later to Starrett City. She taught pre-school and elementary school in East New York until 2013. Anita married a Black man, Steve Faulding, and they moved with their children to Baldwin, New York (Long Island) in 1991.

Subject Names

  • Faulding, Anita

Subject Organizations

  • Fairfield Towers (Housing complex)
  • Linden Houses (Housing complex)
  • United Community Centers, Inc

Subject Topics

  • Charter schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Day care centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School integration -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Whites -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Baldwin (N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Foglio, Paulette and Holtzman, Jordan, 2014 July 17

Biographical note

Paulette (Giarusso) Foglio was born in Brooklyn in 1953 to Italian parents. Her family was the first to move into the Linden Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn when it opened in 1956, and they lived there until 1969. She attended PS 190, George Gershwin Junior High School, Thomas Jefferson High School, and St. John's University. She is the principal of PS 99 in Kew Gardens, Queens, and currently lives on Long Island, New York.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Paulette Foglio and Jordan Holtzman describe growing up in the Linden Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1950s and 1960s, their experiences in neighborhood schools (especially George Gershwin Junior High School and Thomas Jefferson High School), neighborhood businesses, White flight from the neighborhood and public housing, the rise in crime in the neighborhood, integration and race relations, and their feelings about the neighborhood today. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at PS 99 in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York.

Biographical note

Jordan Holtzman was born in Brooklyn in 1946 to Jewish parents. His family moved to the Linden Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1950s, where they remained until the 1970s. He attended PS 190, George Gershwin Junior High School, Thomas Jefferson High School, New York City Community College, and Baruch College. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He worked as a stock trader on Wall Street for 25 years, and now works as a Parent Coordinator at PS 99 in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York. He lives in Forest Hills, Queens, New York.

Subject Names

  • Foglio, Paulette
  • Holtzman, Jordan

Subject Organizations

  • Fortunoff (Department store)
  • George Gershwin J.H.S. 166 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Linden Houses (Housing complex)
  • Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Real estate business -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School integration -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban policy -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Whites -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Gonzalez, Gladys, 2014 September 12

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Gladys Gonzalez discusses moving from the Fort Greene neighborhood to the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, life in East New York in the 1960s, establishing community gardens on her block, her school years and race relations at George Gershwin Junior High School, the effect of drugs and crime on the community, and her optimism regarding the future of the neighborhood. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Gonzalez's home in East New York.

Biographical note

Gladys (Roldan) Gonzalez was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1953. Her father was born in Puerto Rico and her mother (also of Puerto Rican descent) was born in Spain. Gonzalez was one of nine siblings in the family. In 1959, her parents purchased a home and moved their family from the Fort Greene neighborhood to the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. She attended PS 108, George Gershwin Junior High School, JHS 64, and Thomas Jefferson High School. In 1989, Gonzalez cofounded PS 4 Paradise Garden. The garden was established on vacant lots near her home, which were the result of fires in the neighborhood during the 1980s. She married and had two children.

Subject Names

  • Gonzalez, Gladys

Subject Organizations

  • George Gershwin J.H.S. 166 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • P.S. 4K Paradise Garden (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • P.S. 108 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • P.S. K004 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Business enterprises -x Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community gardens -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Drug traffic -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Police-community relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Ashford Street (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)

Gonzalez, Luis, 2014 October 23

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Luis Gonzalez describes moving from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn, living in the Ocean Hill section of the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn (which he refers to as East New York), relationships with Jewish neighbors, working as a youth, race relations and bullying at school, White flight from the neighborhood, the rise of drugs and crime, and his work as a New York City Housing Police Department officer and detective. The interview was conducted remotely by Sarita Daftary-Steel in Brooklyn, New York and Gonzalez in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Biographical note

Luis Gonzalez was born in 1946 in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. His family moved to the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1953, before settling in the Ocean Hill section of the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn (which he refers to as East New York) in 1955. He attended PS 87 and East New York Vocational High School, where he specialized in aviation. Gonzalez resided in the area until 1964, when he left to serve in the U.S. Air Force. He returned to New York in 1968 and later worked as a New York City Housing Police Department officer and detective. He moved back to Puerto Rico in 2001.

Subject Names

  • Gonzalez, Luis

Subject Organizations

  • East New York Vocational High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • New York City Housing Authority. Police Department
  • P.S. 87 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Drug traffic -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brownsville (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • Ocean Hill (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Grizer, Mel, 2014 January 1

Biographical note

Mel Grizer was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1938 to Jewish parents. He attended Temple University and earned a graduate degree from the University of Iowa. He moved to the Linden Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1967. There he worked for United Community Centers, a local organization founded on principles of racial integration. He became the organization's Director in 1989, and currently serves as Acting President of the Board of Directors. Grizer lives with his wife and children in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Mel Grizer describes moving to public housing in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1967, working with United Community Centers (UCC) to promote integration and the difficulties they faced from both the White and Black communities, the leadership and evolution of UCC through the years, White flight and the changing demographics of the neighborhood, the rise of crime and arson in the community, violence in local public schools, and political corruption. The interview was conducted at Grizer's home in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn by Sarita Daftary-Steel.

Subject Names

  • Grizer, Mel

Subject Organizations

  • Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club (39th district)
  • Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • United Community Centers, Inc

Subject Topics

  • Black nationalism -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Political corruption -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School integration -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Holtzman, Jordan, 2014 July 17

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Jordan Holtzman describes growing up in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, attending local schools (PS 190, George Gershwin Junior High School, and Thomas Jefferson High School), working with his father, local businesses on New Lots Avenue, integration of the neighborhood, and the Linden Houses. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at PS 99 in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York.

Biographical note

Jordan Holtzman was born in Brooklyn in 1946 to Jewish parents. His family moved to the Linden Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1950s, where they remained until the 1970s. He attended PS 190, George Gershwin Junior High School, Thomas Jefferson High School, New York City Community College, and Baruch College. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He worked as a stock trader on Wall Street for 25 years, and now works as a Parent Coordinator at PS 99 in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York. He lives in Forest Hills, Queens, New York.

Subject Names

  • Holtzman, Jordan

Subject Organizations

  • Fortunoff (Department store)
  • George Gershwin J.H.S. 166 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Linden Houses (Housing complex)
  • Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban policy -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Joseph, Edwina, 2014 October 31

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Edwina Joseph describes life in the Linden Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, where she resided for over forty five years. She discusses being the first Black family to move into the Houses in 1962, relations with her neighbors, White flight from the Houses, and subsequent decline of the quality of life due to the New York City Housing Authority's disregard for residents. She also discusses the schools her children attended and political activism in the neighborhood. The interview was conducted remotely by Sarita Daftary-Steel in Brooklyn, New York and Joseph in Acworth, Georgia.

Biographical note

Edwina (Greene) Joseph was born in 1940. She moved from the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn to the Linden Houses (in the East New York neighborhood) with her husband and children in 1962, and lived there until 2010. Joseph worked at the Wells Fargo bank international branch on Wall Street for many years. After her retirement, she was active in the East New York Farms! Project as a member of a Community Supported Agriculture program. In 2010 she moved to Acworth, Georgia.

Subject Names

  • Espada, Frank
  • Joseph, Edwina

Subject Organizations

  • Linden Houses (Housing complex)
  • New York City Housing Authority
  • United Community Centers, Inc

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Drug traffic -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban policy -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Voter registration -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Joseph, Edwina, 2014 November 7

Biographical note

Edwina (Greene) Joseph was born in 1940. She moved from the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn to the Linden Houses (in the East New York neighborhood) with her husband and children in 1962, and lived there until 2010. Joseph worked at the Wells Fargo bank international branch on Wall Street for many years. After her retirement, she was active in the East New York Farms! Project as a member of a Community Supported Agriculture program. In 2010 she moved to Acworth, Georgia.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Edwina Joseph continues to discuss living in the Linden Houses from 1962 to 2010 and the changes she saw over the years, including a decline in police presence, draconian law enforcement when police were present in the area, the adversarial relationship between the Housing Authority and residents, and the general decline in quality of life. The interview was conducted remotely by Sarita Daftary-Steel in Brooklyn, New York and Joseph in Acworth, Georgia.

Subject Names

  • Joseph, Edwina

Subject Organizations

  • Linden Houses (Housing complex)
  • New York (N.Y.). Police Department
  • New York City Housing Authority

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Drug traffic -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Police-community relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban policy -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Malek, Gloria, 2014 May 12

Biographical note

Gloria (Feingold) Malek was born on September 25, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish parents. She lived in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn where she attended school (PS 90, JHS 109, and Thomas Jefferson High School) and raised her family. Starting in 1957 she resided in the Linden Houses, where she lived for seventeen years. After briefly moving to California, she returned to East New York and lived in Starrett City for fourteen years. She was active in political and community organizations, including the Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs, the Women's Strike for Peace, East New York Action, and especially the United Community Centers (of which she serves on the Board of Directors). Malek was married and had two children. Following the end of her first marriage she was in a long-term interracial relationship. She remained in East New York until the 1990s, when she moved to the Stuyvesant Town residential development in Manhattan.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Gloria Malek describes growing up in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1930s through 1950s when it was primarily a Jewish community, living in the Linden Houses and its later decline, White flight, her involvement with political activism and the March on Washington, becoming deeply involved with the United Community Centers and integration, race relations at local schools and bullying, crime and being mugged, and her interracial relationship with a Black man. Throughout the interview she speaks about the challenges she and her family faced living in East New York, but also emphasizes her strong desire to live and socialize in racially mixed communities. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Malek's home in the Stuyvesant Town residential development in Manhattan, New York, New York.

Subject Names

  • Espada, Frank
  • Malek, Gloria

Subject Organizations

  • Linden Houses (Housing complex)
  • Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • United Community Centers, Inc

Subject Topics

  • Community activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban policy -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Montgomery, Isaiah, 2014 June 20

Biographical note

Isaiah Montgomery was born in Smithville, North Carolina, in 1948 to African American parents. He lived with his grandparents in Spartanburg, South Carolina, until the age of six. At that time he moved to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn to join his parents, who had migrated to New York several years earlier. In 1963 his family bought a home and moved to 548 Hinsdale Street in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he attended Franklin K. Lane High School. Montgomery served in the Vietnam War and then spent much of his adult life employed as a corrections officer. He married, had two children, and continues to live in East New York on Newport Street, where he is a member of a community garden and the East New York Farms! Project.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Isaiah Montgomery describes his move from South Carolina to Brooklyn; his parents' work and taking care of his sister as a youth; moving to the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1963; White flight; the rise of crime, arson, and drugs; race conflict at Franklin K. Lane High School; his children's time at South Shore High School and Thomas Jefferson High School; community gardens; and the current development and revitalization of the neighborhood. He also describes his work as a corrections officer in New York City. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Montgomery's home in East New York.

Subject Names

  • Montgomery, Isaiah

Subject Organizations

  • Franklin K. Lane High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • South Shore High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Arson -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community gardens -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Correctional personnel -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Home ownership -x Social aspects -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School integration -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • Hinsdale Street (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Newport Street (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Piggott, Conrad Wayne, 2015 January 9

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Conrad Wayne Piggott discusses moving from the Fort Greene Houses to the Boulevard Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, the rural nature of East New York in the 1950s and 1960s, local businesses, playing in the nearby junkyards and wetlands, joining the Marines and serving in the Vietnam War, his affinity for military life, his love of East New York (especially his time as a youth), his father's work as a New York City Transit Police Department detective, his mother's ancestry, teenagers today, corporal punishment, and his interactions with the police. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Brooklyn Public Library's Central Library.

Biographical notes

Conrad Wayne Piggott was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1950 to parents of mixed ancestry, including African, German Jewish, Taino, and West Indian. His father was a New York City Transit Police Department detective and his mother was a housewife. Piggott lived in the Fort Greene Houses until 1955, when his family moved to the Boulevard Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, where they remained until 1995. He attended PS 273, George Gershwin Junior High School, and Thomas Jefferson High School. After graduating high school, he joined the Marines and served in the Vietnam War. He remained in military service for much of his life. As of 2015, Piggott is a resident of the Ocean Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Subject Names

  • Piggott, Conrad Wayne

Subject Organizations

  • Boulevard Houses (Housing complex)
  • New York (N.Y.). Transit Police Department

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Play environments -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Police-community relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Rural conditions -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -x Veterans -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
  • Ocean Hill (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Rabinowitz, Richard, 2014 December 8

Biographical note

Richard Rabinowitz was born in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1945. His father was a Jewish American and his mother was a Jewish immigrant who emigrated from Poland in 1928. His family purchased a home on Bradford Street, between Hegeman Avenue and Linden Boulevard, in 1948, and they remained there until 1966 or 1967. He attended PS 213, George Gershwin Junior High School, and Stuyvesant High School. He moved to Massachusetts and attended Harvard University before returning to Brooklyn in the 1980s. Rabinowitz is a public historian and founder of the American History Workshop. He lives in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn with his wife.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Richard Rabinowitz discusses his parents' lives in the 1930s and 1940s, his childhood growing up in the Jewish community of the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1950s, local businesses and schools, White flight, race relations, and integration. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Rabinowitz's home in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Subject Names

  • Rabinowitz, Richard

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball team)
  • George Gershwin J.H.S. 166 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • P.S. 213 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jewish neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Real estate business -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School integration -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban policy -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bradford Street (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brownsville (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Richardson, Toni, 2015 February 6

Biographical note

Toni Richardson was born in Manhattan around 1951. Her mother was a Black American who was born in South Carolina and migrated to Brooklyn, and her father was also a descendent of Southern Black Americans. Her family lived in the Amsterdam Houses in the Upper West Side neighborhood of Manhattan until 1957, when her father got a job with the New York City Transit Authority and they moved to the Linden Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. Richardson attended PS 224, PS 190, and Thomas Jefferson High School. As a teenager, she was an active member of United Community Centers. She lived in Linden Houses until 1972, and her mother continued to live in the Houses until she passed many years later. She now lives in Ossining, New York, and has worked for IBM for much of her life.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Toni Richardson discusses moving from the Amsterdam Houses to the Linden Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1957, growing up in the neighborhood and interracial friendships, race relations as a teenager, attending Thomas Jefferson High School, her involvement with United Community Centers, the decline of services in the Linden Houses as the residents shifted from predominantly White to Black, the poor quality of education in local schools, her career as a Black woman at IBM, and systemic racism and its effect on society. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Richardson's home in Ossining, New York.

Subject Names

  • Richardson, Toni

Subject Organizations

  • International Business Machines Corporation
  • Linden Houses (Housing complex)
  • Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • United Community Centers, Inc

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Racism in the workplace
  • School integration -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social classes -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban policy -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Smith, Yvonne, 2014 September 8

Biographical note

Yvonne (Nelson) Smith was born in 1944 in the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem to African American parents. She would later live in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn and Queens. Smith moved with her husband to the Linden Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1966, where they resided until 1975. She attended Central Commercial High School and worked for the Federal Treasury Department for thirty two years, while her husband worked for the New York Police Department. She currently lives with her husband and daughter in Rochdale Village, Queens, New York.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Yvonne Smith discusses moving to the Linden Houses in 1966, the decline of the housing development and moving to Rochdale Village in Queens, sending her children to Catholic schools instead of public schools, the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, the decline of integration in the communities where she has resided, parenting, and racism in society. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Smith's home in Rochdale Village, Queens, New York.

Subject Names

  • Smith, Yvonne

Subject Organizations

  • Linden Houses (Housing complex)

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Catholic schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Parenting
  • Racism -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brownsville (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • Rochdale Village (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

Yeancades, Carmen, 2014 August 8

Biographical note

Carmen Yeancades was born in 1950 in Malta and immigrated to Manhattan, New York, with her family when she was one year old. Her family moved to the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn to live with extended family in 1955 upon the death of her mother. They lived in East New York until 1962, and eventually moved to Richmond Hill, Queens. Carmen attended Queens College and has worked with Estee Lauder for many years. She currently lives in Bardonia, New York.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Carmen Yeancades speaks in detail about her life as a child in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. She describes the dissolution of the neighborhood, blockbusting, the influx of many Southern Black families, the exodus of Jewish families, White flight, and the reconstruction of the neighborhood in preparation for new housing projects. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Yeancades' home in Bardonia, New York.

Subject Names

  • Yeancades, Carmen

Subject Organizations

  • Linden Houses (Housing complex)
  • New York City Housing Authority

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Catholic schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gangs -- New York (State) -- Kings Country
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Real estate business -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social classes -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions

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