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Guide to the Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories 2018.006

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Elena Locascio

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 13, 2019
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Revised by Maggie Schreiner to reflect updated access restrictions.  , April 2019

Container List

Oral History Interview with Jo Ann Benoit, April 14, 2018

Biographical / Historical

Jo Ann Benoit was born in 1975 in Brooklyn. She spent most of her childhood being raised by her grandmother in Haiti, with regular trips to visit her mother in Brooklyn. She moved back to Brooklyn permanently following the 1991 Haitian coup d'état, where she completed her last two years of high school. While attending Pace University in Manhattan, she worked as an interpretor and English language teacher for Haitian refugees. Her passion for education continued throughout her adulthood, leading her to work as both a teacher and a school administrator. Coursework for one of her graduate degrees in education inspired her initial interest in Islam, which she embraced in 1999.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Jo Ann Benoit discusses her childhood, including growing up in Haiti, attending a Catholic school there, and moving to Brooklyn as a teenager. She also talks about her passion for education and community activism, especially regarding her work as an English language teacher, interpreter, and school administrator. She elaborates about her Muslim faith, including her initial exposure to Islam through graduate level coursework, embracing Islam, observance of Muslim customs and traditions, and raising two children in an interfaith marriage. In addition, she speaks about having her portrait taken for an article in Essence Magazine. Interview conducted by Liz H. Strong.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Subject Organizations

  • Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Catholic schools -- Haiti
  • Child rearing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community activists
  • Education -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Haitian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Interfaith families -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Muslim converts from Christianity -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Refugees -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Haiti