WHEN: September 24, 2015, 6 - 8 PM
WHERE: Knox Hall, 606 W. 122nd Street, Room 509
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Since the 1950s few topics have roiled New York City more than public education, with its powerful connections to demands for racial justice, struggles for economic mobility, and changing definitions of community. Nowhere have debates about public schools been more ardent than in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in upper Manhattan of Latinos, African Americans, and Irish, Jewish and Greek immigrants and their children. How do the memories of education activists from Washington Heights help us understand New York City’s “school wars”--their origins, victories, defeats, and lessons for future generations? Our live oral history, bringing together activists from different communities who both worked on school issues in northern Manhattan decades ago, will build on research and interviews conducted for the book Crossing Broadway:Washington Heights and the Promise of New York City (Cornell, 2015). Our collaborators in this exchange of memories and ideas are Laura Altschuler and Sixto Medina—long-time residents and activists in northern Manhattan—and Robert W. Snyder, author of Crossing Broadway. Together, they will share memories and reflect on how struggles around schools intersected with topics such as ethnic politics, community building, changing ideas about learning, and efforts to reconcile public education and democracy.
Laura Altschuler, born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1932, has been a resident of Washington Heights and Inwood since 1939. She was a public school parent and president or vice president of the Parents Associations at PS 98, JHS 143, Bronx High School of Science and the High School of Music and Art. In upper Manhattan, she monitored voting in local school board elections. She has moderated debates and lectured on civic issues in New York City and served on a variety of appointed boards. Currently she is special projects coordinator of the League of Women Voters of the City of New York and a member of the board of directors for the Committee for Modern Courts.
Sixto Medina, born in Santiago, Dominican Republic in 1946, immigrated to New York City in 1963. From 1967 to 1998 he worked at the GM plant in North Tarrytown, NY, where he was active in the Rank and File Committee of Local 664 of the United Auto Workers, which challenged both management and union leadership on conditions in the plant. He also served on the local’s executive board. As a resident and pubic school parent in Washington Heights, he became active in the Parents Association of PS 173. He was elected to one term on the local school board in 1980. He was also a Democratic district leader and a founding member of both the Alianza Dominicana and the Tamboril Community Center in Washington Heights.
Robert W. Snyder, moderator, is an associate professor of journalism and American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark and a New York City resident. He grew up in the suburban town of Dumont, NJ listening to his parents’ stories about their old neighborhood of Washington Heights.
SPONSORS: This talk is part of the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR) and the Oral History Master of Arts Program (OHMA). Support from the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) is provided for programming that embodies late Professor Paul Lazarsfeld’s commitment to improving methodological approaches that address concerns of vital cultural and social significance.
INFORMATION: For more information, please email Amy Starecheski at aas39(at)columbia.edu
THIS EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
NO REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED