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African American Oral History Project update

The Yonkers Public Library African American Oral History project has been running since February 1. The participants have generously shared their stories and advice. Though some interviewees have faced adversity, listeners can hear how they overcame challenges and reached success.

These interviews can be watched on the Yonkers Public Library YouTube Channel or listened to  on the Yonkers Public Library Digital Archive. Photographs of participants and their family can be accessed on the digital archive. Below is a brief synopsis of the interviews conducted so far. We encourage you to listen! Listed below are some of our interviewees that have shared their stories:

Theresa Murphy shared stories about her experience growing up in the Bronx and talked about New York in the 1950s and 1960s. She described her involvement in the Civil Rights movement.

Dennis Richmond Jr. spoke about his experience researching his family’s genealogy, tracing his roots back to the 1770’s. He talked about his involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement and founding of the New York-New Jersey HBCU Initative.

Vinnie Bagwell is the artist behind the bronze Ella Fitzgerald statue titled “The First Lady of Jazz” in Yonkers and the Victory Behind Sims sculpture she crafted to replace the J. Marion Sims statue on Fifth Avenue in New York City. In her interview she discusses these projects and others by African-American women. 

Thelma Jenkins and grand-daughter Katori Walker were interviewed together. Thelma recalls stories from her youth and experiences with racism here in Yonkers and the United States. Katori described her artwork and her involvement with different art organizations in Yonkers

Dale Rascoe described growing up in Ossining and the racism she faced in school. After learning about the Black Panthers, she moved to California to join them. Rascoe speaks about her experiences with the Black Panthers and her work in the Black Power movement.

If you are interested in being interviewed as part of this project, contact Michael Walsh at mwalsh@ypl.org or Kishauna Soljour at ksoljour@ypl.org.