At the second annual Bronx Celebration Day on April 21, a Mexican folk dance troupe, Marzarte Dance Company, held hands with Fordham students and local residents for an energetic chain dance around the Walsh Lot of the Rose Hill campus.
Folklorist and choreographer Martha Nora Zarate-Alvarez, who heads the Bronx-based ensemble, said the group’s lively performance represented the traditions of the Huasteco and Jalisco regions of Mexico.
“We wanted to showcase the importance of Mexican culture in the Bronx and traditional Mexican dance,” said Zarate-Alvarez, who was dressed in a multicolored tiered skirt. “Mexican culture is more than just mariachi music.”
Bronx Celebration Day was presented by the Bronx Collaboration Committee, a division of the Fordham Club, and co-sponsored by Bronx Community Board 6, Fordham University Commuting Students Association, Fordham Road BID, and the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer at Fordham University.
I know, that the shortest month of the year is devoted to honoring black Americans is a disgrace, but being that it is Black History Month, I wanted to share some of the awesome work by faculty from Fordham’s African American History department:
Watch a clip of Dr. Cox on the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC here.
Christina Greer‘s research and teaching focus on American politics, black ethnic politics, urban politics, immigration, quantitative methods, Congress, city and state politics, campaigns and elections, and public opinion.
I am NOT the type to post inspirational quotes on social media by the Dalai Lama, Joel Osteen, or even Bill Gates. (Ha.) But I will share this cool news (the part about 250 underprivileged kids) coming out of the Osteen camp because this is what it’s all about, in my opinion — spreading love by helping out! That, in itself, is inspiring; no quotes needed. Thanks to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Press Office for sharing this bit of news.
The third annual Generation Hope Project® will focus on mentoring—developing one-to-one relationships with young people who need strong role models. Volunteers will have an opportunity to share time with middle school children who might not normally get the chance to join in on the full zoo experience.
Generation Hope Project® will also work with organizations around the Bronx community on service projects including.
WCS’s Bronx Zoo – Volunteers will mentor and take 250 underserved middle-school age children to the zoo.
NYC Food Bank in Hunts Point – Packing food boxes to distribute in the community.
Community Kitchen & Food Pantry in Harlem – Stocking pantry shelves and food prep.
Green Pastures Baptist Church – Major cleanup of Hurricane Sandy damage, organization and rehabilitation of facility.
Bronx Christian Fellowship Church – Major cleanup and organization of warehouse, sorting donations, cleaning outside bays and church repair.
Latino Pastoral Action Center – Major cleanup of classrooms, painting, donation sorting, participating in children’s school activities.
Yankee Stadium Mentoring Baseball Game – Volunteers will accompany mentees and mentors to the game to highlight them and the programs in pre-game activities.
Generation Hope Project® is an outreach of Joel Osteen Ministries that engages young adults from around the country and around the world in service to communities in need. Through partnerships with local leaders, organizations, and other churches, GenHope has provided close to 3,000 hours of volunteer service, reaching thousands through its social media messages and bringing supplies and support to those in need. Learn more at www.generationhopeproject.com.
America’s Night of Hope will be held at Yankee Stadium on June 7, 2014 at 7pm. The event, which coincides with the volunteer projects, will draw more than 55,000 from across the nation for an evening of hope and celebration. This year marks the 6th annual event. The first was held at Yankee Stadium in 2009, then Dodger Stadium, US Cellular Field, Nationals Park, and Marlins Stadium in 2013. For more information, go to www.joelosteen.com.
Joel and Victoria Osteen are the pastors of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas-America’s largest church with more than 52,000 weekly attendees and one of the nation’s most racially and socioeconomically diverse. Joel’s weekly television program reaches more than 10 million households each week in the US and is seen by millions more in over 100 nations across the globe.
Bronx, NY – May 1, 2014 – The lion cubs are out and about at the Bronx Zoo!
They debuted last fall and were announced by Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny via Twitter (@jimbreheny).
Born on Aug. 16, the litter is comprised of three males, Thulani, Ime, and Bahati, and one female, Amara. Their mother is Sukari (9 years old) and father is M’wasi (11 years old). This is Sukari and M’wasi’s third litter.
Lions live in grasslands and open woodlands across much of sub-Saharan Africa, and the Bronx Zoo’s African Plains exhibit is a representation of the East African savannah. One of the most popular exhibits at the zoo, the African Plains opened in 1941 to record crowds and was the first zoo exhibit in North America to showcase African wildlife in a predator/prey setting, with the lions separated from their prey by a moat.
The Bronx Zoo breeds lions as part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative propagation program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
In nature, lion populations are drastically declining and African lions are designated as Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Bronx, NY –– Nov. 13, 2013 – On Friday, Nov. 15, Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene will join officials from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and children from PS 205 at Zoo Center to kick-off Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.’s holiday toy drive to benefit Bronx military families.
In honor of the start of the holiday season, school children from PS 205 will be on hand to donate the first toys of the year.
The partnership between the Bronx Zoo and the Borough President on the toy drive has become an annual tradition. The Bronx Zoo will serve as a collection point for new, unwrapped toys donated by members of the community. Toys will be collected through the end of December and will be distributed by the Borough President’s office to local veterans and active-duty members of the military and their families.
In appreciation for their generosity, those who make a qualifying donation of a new, unwrapped toy at any of WCS’s wildlife parks between Saturday, Nov. 16 and Tuesday, Dec. 31 will receive a free ticket to the Bronx Zoo or New York Aquarium depending on location.
Toys will also be collected at the other WCS wildlife parks. Toys collected at Central Park Zoo and Queens Zoo will be donated to families in need within the communities they serve. Prospect Park Zoo and the New York Aquarium will collect toys to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. Toys donated at the Prospect Park Zoo and New York Aquarium will receive a ticket to the New York Aquarium. Visit http://www.wcs.org/toydrive/.
Among the many things I love about my job at Fordham University is that I get to deal with academics on a daily basis. Sometimes, I sit in on their classes. One of the most interesting professors is Mark Naison, professor of history and African American Studies.
For as long as I’ve been here, he’s taught a very popular, hard to get into (due to it filling up very quickly) class called, “From Rock & Roll to Hip Hop: Urban Youth Cultures in Post War America.” It’s a class where music is heard (the rock & roll and soul stuff is GREAT) and special guest musicians give performances and mini-lectures. It all makes me wish I was an undergrad!
You can read some media coverage of Dr. Naison’s class, as well as his alter-ego, “The Notorious Ph.D., below. (Yes, Dr. Naison is known to rap.)
Check out the syllabus for the Fall 2013 semester here (bold emphasis mine):
AFAM 3134 From Rock and Roll to Hip Hop: Urban Youth Cultures in Post War America Dr. Mark Naison
Since the late 19th Century African Americans have exerted a powerful influence on the development of American popular music. Forms of musical expression developed in African-American communities have been reinterpreted and marketed to create the modern music industry, shaping the development of Tin Pan Alley, the Broadway musical stage, the record industry, the modern dance band, and music radio.
Until the end of World War II, racism and lack of capital kept African-American artists and entrepreneurs on the margins of this activity, denying them access to commercial venues that would reward them for their creativity and create a national audience base outside the black community. Only a handful of Black artists -Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson- had large enough followings outside the “race market”- the section of the music industry targeted to blacks- to make them truly national figures In post World War II era, however, the terms of this cultural interchange began to shift. Civil rights victories, north and south, black migration to urban areas, and the opening of new economic opportunities in industry and government employment set the stage for a new relationship between blacks and the music industry. As radio stations in major cities began to tap into the growing African-American market, black music of all types-gospel blues, swing, rhythm and blues- began to hit the airwaves.
The newest of these genres, rhythm and blues, a urban music that fused sweet harmonies and powerful dance beats, sparked a musical and commercial revolution by attracting a huge underground audience among whites. By the early 1950’s, “black” music radio from Memphis to Los Angeles was attracting hundreds of thousands of white listeners, most of them under the age of twenty five, and sparking an unexpected growth of record sales for artists who had only aimed for the “race market.” In several cities, white disc jockeys decided to tap into this new youth audience by incorporating rhythm and blues into their formats and got such a huge response that they made it the centerpiece of their shows.
Calling it “rock and roll,” they marketed it as youth music rather than black music and looked for white artists who could play it to supplement the already established black stars. This marketing strategy was brilliantly successful. By the early sixties, rock and roll had become the musical language of a generation of American youth, crossing racial and cultural barriers that had never previously been bridged by the music industry.
Though white entrepreneurs and artists made the bulk of the profits in this billion dollar business, scores of black artists cracked into national markets that had previously been closed to them and shaped the musical tastes of millions of young whites. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, the Drifters, the Shirelles, the Coasters, Lloyd Price, Fats Domino, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, to name a few, were central to the early success of rock and roll, and their influence would later be built on by Motown artists like the Supremes, the Four Tops and the Temptations, and soul singers like James Brown, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin. The terms of cultural interchange in this music were shaped by the site of its creation; the post-war metropolis. Rock and roll was the product of a long economic boom that brought blacks into the center of the industrial economy and placed them in close proximity with the descendants of white and latino immigrants. On street corners and in school gymnasiums, in clubs and theaters, in radio stations and recording studious, African-American artists and entrepreneurs mingled with musicians, producers and songwriters of other nationalities.
In the earliest days of rock and roll, the sources of creativity flowed upward from city streets, but as the music became more popular, the recording industry was taken over by media conglomerates, removing its experimental, grass roots atmosphere and separating it from its African-American roots. By the late 1960’s and 1970’s rock and roll had become typecast as “white” music, identified more with its white suburban following than its African-American originators; while African-American artists moved into niches in the music market where a modified urban sensibility still prevailed- funk, disco, soul, and pop. However, African-American and Latino youths, trapped in decaying neighborhoods savaged by disinvestment and government neglect, found themselves disfranchised by these musical developments.
In post-industrial cities where vacant lots, shuttered factories, and decaying schools marked the boundaries of crushed hopes and declining opportunities, young blacks and Latinos, supported by a small number of adventurous whites, invented a new music that fused verbal improvisation, scratching and back beats and fragments of previous musical genres into a jarring, densely rhythmic, compulsively danceable mix. Played in community centers and schoolyards, house parties and small clubs, the music initially attracted little interest from recording companies or commercial radio. But its extraordinary popularity among urban youth soon caught the attention of neighborhood promoters, who began recording the music, and hip audiences in the largely white downtown “punk” scene.
By the early 80’s, hip hop or rap, had started to crack into mass markets and commercial radio, even though most established professionals didn’t regard it as real music. But the music accurately expressed the sensibility of people who had been left out post-industrial social order or who were rebelling against its mores. Hip hop, despite fierce skepticism and opposition, not only survived, but exploded becoming the most commercially successful musical form in the world by the mid-90’s, defining not only the sensibility of urban youth in the United States, but young people of various backgrounds all over the world.Once again African-American cultural creativity, forged in an urban setting, had redefined the musical tastes of a generation.
In the course that follows, we will examine how the sensibility and musical creativity of urban youth, in two very different historical periods , inspired musical revolutions which transformed the tastes of entire generations, crossing boundaries of race, gender, nation and social class. How could this happen twice in fifty years? What does this say about the racial/cultural dynamics of post-war American society? About the connection between African-American culture and American culture? About race and gender dynamics in the culture industry? About the role of women in musical forms which emphasize an insurgent, eroticized masculinity and turn women into objects of desire and/or contempt? About how rebellion can be marketed, coopted and turned into an instrument for material gain?
To get at these questions, the course will use music, film, and literature as well as historical writings on the music industry and contemporary urban life. To add depth to our portrait, we will also explore musical countercultures of international derivation particularly punk, reggae, salsa and reggaeton, and look at how folk music and jazz periodically invade and occasionally shape popular musical forms. We will also explore how these musical forms become internationalized and how they are being brought to life today in new ways in nations around the world.
We have a graduate assistant working with the class, Melissa Castillo Garsow, who will give a few lectures and presentations on the globalization of hip hop. At various points in the class, people involved in the creation of the music we are studying will come to class to perform or talk about their work. There will also be an opportunity for students in the class to perform their music, inside or outside of class. We draw no line between musical creativity and musical analysis. Both are welcome in our classroom.
I. An Overview of Popular Music in the US: Garafalo and Waksman Rockin Out, Introduction
2. Some Antecedents of Rock and Roll: Garafalo and Waksman, Rockin Out, chapters 1 and 2, Rock and Roll, Race, and the invention of the “Teenager:” Garafalo and Waksman, Rockin Out, chapters 3-5 Echols, Scars of Sweet Paradise, chapter 1
3. Soundtrack to Social Revolution, Soul Music, Civil Rights and the Rise of the Counter Culture: Guralnick, Sweet Soul Music, 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11 Echols, Scars of Sweet Paradise, 2-7 Garafalo and Waksman, Rockin Out, chapter 6
4. Black Power, White Flight and the Resegregation of Popular Music: Guralnick, Sweet Soul Music, ch. 12 Echols, Scars of Sweet Paradise, 8-9 Garafalo and Waksman, Rockin Out, Chapter 7, Mid-Term Examination
5. The Rise of Hip Hop: Creativity and Destruction in the Post-Industrial City: George, Hip Hop America, chapters 1-2, Foreman and Neal, That’s The Joint, selections Mark Naison “The Morrisania Roots of Hip Hop Culture” (article sent on internet) Mark Naison “From Doo Wop To Hip Hop” (article sent on internet)
6.. Caribbean and Latin Influences in Hip Hop Culture: Foreman and Neal, That’s The Joint, selections, Class Presentations/Lectures by Melissa Castillo-Garsow
7. Images of Rebellion: MTV, Music Videos, and Commercialization of Rap: Garafalo and Waksman, Rockin Out, chapters 8, 10 George, Hip Hop America, chapters 3-4, Foreman and Neal, That’s The Joint, selections
8. The Crack Epidemic and the Rise of Gangsta Rap: George, Hip Hop America, chs. 5-10 Foreman and Neal, That’s The Joint, 11, 17, 26, `44, Jay Z Decoded
9. Hip Hop Wars: Gender, Sexuality and the Politics of Contemporary Rap: George, Hip Hop America, chs. 11-18 Foreman and Neal, That’s The Joint, selections
10. The Globalization of Hip Hop: Foreman and Neal, That’s The Joint, selections, Class Presentations/Lectures by Melissa Castillo Garsow
Five years living in New York City and I’d never visited the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. What a mistake! It’s 250 acres of gorgeous and they hold special exhibits, like the one on “Wild Medicine” (medicinal plants used all over the world) that runs until Sept. 8.
They offer discounts and specials if you use your Mastercard.
One of the best things about working at a Jesuit university is that you’re often inspired by students who take the foundational element of Jesuit education, “Men and Women for Others,” and run with it.
Case in point: Michael Partis, a young man I wrote about who graduated from Fordham in 2008.
Partis is now a doctoral student, and through his work, he is doing something for the next generation.
Young Movement, Inc. is a nonprofit organization he has worked on building and developing for the past two years.
In conjunction with CUNY Hostos Community College’s Black Male Initiative, Young Movement will launch the one-day F.E.E.L Program at Hostos Community College, in the Savoy Building, Multi-Purpose Room.
“The one-day program is geared to help youth and young adults not only understand today’s economy, but also to succeed and transform it,” Partis says.
Workshop topics will include:
Representatives from TD Bank and American Express, along with minority entrepreneurs and business-owners, will be in attendance.
Throughout the day, guest speakers will discuss topics such as social entrepreneurship, “turning classroom learning into a career,” and how local neighborhoods can accelerate local economic development.
Partis urges all youth, young adults, and area institutions and agencies, to attend.
It’s the mid 1950’s. Howie Evans, a 15 yearold up-and-coming basketball and track star, is shooting hoops in the night center at Public School #99 in the Morrisania section of the Bronx, which like most elementary school gymnasiums in New York City, was kept open five nights a week from 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.
Howie’s friends rush into the gym. Their mostly Puerto Rican gang, of which Howie is a member, is having a rumble with a much feared Black gang called the “Slicksters.” The head of the night center,Vincent Tibbs, a powerfully built African American teacher who was a friend to many young people in the neighborhood, overheard what was going on and walked slowly over to the door of the gym. When Howie tried to rush out, Mr Tibbs stood in front of the door and said “I’m not letting you leave here. You have a future. You’re not going to die in the street.”
Howie, who told me this story during an oral history interview I did with him, screamed and cried. But Mr. Tibbs, who had the strength and appearance of a weightlifter, wouldn’t move. Howie ended up missing the rumble. It is well he did because two young men died that night, not something that often happened in a time before guns were common weapons on the streets of New York. And Mr Tibbs was right., Howie did have a great future. He went on to become a teacher, a young center director, a college basketball coach (which is how I met him) and the sports writer for the Amsterdam News, a position he holds to this day.
But the story is not just about Howie, it’s about the incredible after school and night centers that were a fixture of every single public school in New York City until they were closed down during the NYC fiscal crisis of the 1970’s. These centers ( I attended one religiously in Brooklyn) had basketball and Nok-hockey, arts and crafts and music programs, and held tournaments and dances.
Some of them, like the P.S. 99 Center, held talent shows which spawned some of New York City’s great doo-wop and Latin music acts. But all of them had teachers like Mr. Tibbs who provided supervision, skill instruction, mentoring, and sometimes life saving advice to two generations of young men and women who attended the city’s public schools, a good many of whom lived in tough working class neighborhoods like Morrisania.
Now let’s segue to Chicago, where young people are killing one another at an alarming rate. The Schools in that city are in upheaval; many have been closed, some are faced with closing, teachers and students are being told that the fate of the schools they are at depend on how well students score on standardized tests; some of which have been installed at the expense of arts and music and sports programs in the schools. Those in charge of education, locally and nationally, think these strategies will improve educational achievement.
But what happens in these schools after regular school hours finish? Do they offer safe zones for young people in Chicago’s working class and poor neighborhoods? Do they have arts and sports programs that will attract young people off the streets? Do they have teacher mentors like Mr. Tibbs who will take a personal interest in tough young men and women and place their own bodies between them and the prospect of death through gang violence?
If the answer is no, that these schools are largely empty once classes end, and they do little or anything to attract young people in, maybe it’s time to start rethinking current school programs. Wouldn’t it be better to have a moratorium on all policies- like school closings- which destabilize neighborhoods- and invest in turning schools into round the clock community centers the way they were in NYC when Howie Evans was growing up?
And if the problem is money, how about taking the money currently spent on testing and assessment, and using it to create after school programs where caring adults offer activities that build on young people’s talents and creativity?
But to do this, we have to rethink the roles school play in neighborhoods like the Bronx’s Morrisania and Chicago’s Humbolt Park, and view them, not primarily as places to train and discipline a future labor force, but as places which strengthen communities and nurture young people into become community minded citizens. But to do that, we have to also treat teachers differently, respecting those who have made teaching a lifetime profession and who are committed to nurturing and mentoring young people even in the most challenging circumstances.
If we don’t do that kind of reconfiguration of our thinking, and ultimately, our policies, we are likely to mourning a lot more young people killed by their peers, and not just in Chicago.
Some moving words by Fordham professor and activist Mark Naison about the Rev. John Flynn, known as the “street priest” who made a difference in the Bronx:
There are not that many people you meet, in real life, whose personality is so incandescent they light of the world. Father John Flynn, pastor of St. Martin of Tours Church in the Bronx who passed away on Sept. 23, was one of those people. I met him at the height of the crack epidemic when gun battles and beefs were taking an incredible toll on young people in the Bronx. I was part of a group of religious leaders, and community activists who met as his church to try to do something about the violence, which was making normal activity impossible for many people in the Bronx because they literally feared to leave their homes and apartments.
Father Flynn’s parish, only 8 blocks from Fordham University, was in the heart of that zone. He had officiated at more than 20 funerals of young men between 17 and 25 in a single year.
Father Flynn, white haired and in his 60’s, walked the streets without fear, talking to those young men. He knew their pain and desperation. And he asked those of us present to work with him in developing a program for out of work, out of school young people, that would rescue them from the street economy.
If you had a heart and a conscience, you could not help but respond to his plea and his example. So we came together to form the “Save a Generation” program. I spent the next year with Father Flynn and several other great Bronx leaders, among them Sister Barbara Leniger of Thorpe Family Residence, and Dr. Lee Stuart of South Bronx Churches, writing proposals, giving talks, walking the streets, even going to Washington to lobby Congress. During that time, I never saw Father Flynn lose his composure, his optimism, his ability to inspire people with quiet eloquence, whether it was talking to the Borough President, or throwing footballs with local youngsters in the street outside his church. And he was as kind and thoughtful when he was alone, in his parish house as he was in his group. He had been in Latin America before he was in the Bronx and he had a deep empathy for the poor along with an equal level of respect. Working with them was his life’s mission and he did it with joy and a wonder at life’s ironies and life’s mysteries.
I spent nearly four years working with Father Flynn helping to get Save a Generation off the ground, and watched it become a life changing program that offered 35 Bronx youngsters a new chance at life. When the crack epidemic eased, I moved on, but kept in touch until he retired.
Greatness takes many forms. It is not always associated with wealth and power and fame. In the Bronx, it may have reached its highest point in the person of a parish priest who walked the street with the lost boys of the community while bullets were flying. And who those boys learned to love as much as everyone else who knew him.
R.I.P. Father Flynn. You will always live in the hearts of everyone who knew you.
Read the New York Times’ story on Father Flynn here.