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Guide to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories 2008.030

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion and Maria Santiago

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2017
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Sanford, Adelaide, 2008 January 24

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Regent Adelaide Sanford, born in 1925, was a career educator notable for her fiery defense of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn's African American students, and her unanimous election to the Board of Regents of the State University of New York. Sanford received her BeD degree from Brooklyn College in 1947, and her MeD degree from Wellesley College in 1950. After fifteen years as a school teacher in New York City's elementary schools, Sanford became assistant principal, and later principal, at Crispus Attucks School in Brooklyn. She earned her PhD degree from Fordham University in 1967. Sanford won unanimous election to the Board of Regents of the State University of New York in 1986. Throughout her tenure, Sanford's interest lay primarily in elevating the achievements and standards of low-performing schools.

Scope and Contents

In this four-hour interview, Dr. Regent Adelaide Sanford discusses her life's history, beginning with her recollection of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1930s and during the Great Depression, and recounts a number of personal stories involving segregation and Jim Crow laws. Sanford recalls the foundation of Restoration, including its early effects on the neighborhood's African American citizens. Throughout the interview, Sanford openly discusses her personal opinions about the state of race in America in 2008, her achievements as an activist, and the reasons she was particularly successful. She shares her thoughts on her tenure with the Board of Regents, Ebonics in schools, the 2008 U.S. presidential election, and corruption in politics. Sanford discusses her personal life; her courtship and marriage, her diagnosis of and treatment for breast cancer, her affection for the African country of Ghana (where she was crowned a Queen Mother), and her Christian religious beliefs. Interview conducted by Laurie Cumbo and Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting

Subject Names

  • Sanford, Adelaide

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • University of the State of New York

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • African diaspora
  • Black nationalism -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -y 20th century
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education
  • Museums
  • Religion -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Segregation -- United States

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • United States |x History