a people’s history of washington heights
in collaboration with Roman Chacon.
Upper Manhattan and the Northwest Bronx have a long, interconnected, radical history.
In 1937, for example, Kingsbridge elected the Irish socialist Transit Workers Union leader as a city councilman, while Yiddish socialists built the Coops, a massive utopian housing development. Washington Heights, meanwhile, has a long dissident history as well. In the 1960s, the Communist Party USA organized the Nurses at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital at 168th street, and in the 1980s, hundreds of people from across the city got together to save the Audobon ballroom, where Malcolm X was assinated, while the neighbhorhood hosted dozens of socialist, communist and unionist exiles from the Dominican republic, as well as multiple of the country’s most famous radical artists, including Tony Morrison and Paul Robeson.
As part of this local history project, we are collecting oral histories with everyday people as well as multiple generations of organizers and activists across uptown.
We are also organizing a series of walking-tours from our conversations for contemporary activists and the general public about the radical histories of Washington Heights, Inwood and the Northwest Bronx.