West Harlem has witnessed tremendous historical and cultural changes over the past decades, and senior residents of Randolph Houses on West 114th Street have stories to tell. Creative Art Works, in collaboration with West Harlem Group Assistance, assembled a team of fourteen Youth Apprentices, recruited from residents of Randolph Houses and students from Innovations Diploma Plus High School, to interview and photograph the elders of Randolph Houses and capture oral histories of this dynamic neighborhood.
Youth Apprentices in the Randolph Houses Oral History Project, who range in age from fifteen to nineteen, learned a wide range of social, artistic and technical skills, including photography, sound recording, and interview techniques. Under the guidance of CAW Teaching Artist Sarah Montijo, they worked with professional quality DSLR cameras and audio recording equipment and edited their images in Adobe Photoshop. They also formed new friendships with members of their project crew and with the elders of their neighborhood.
These stories and images were compiled into a website designed by the Youth Apprentices. Visit the Randolph Houses Oral History Project on the web: www.randolphhousesoralhistories.com
On April 14th, the Randolph Houses community came together to celebrate the accomplishments of these young people and to affirm the beauty and resilience of the residents of West 114th Street. Black and white photo portraits of the elders were unveiled to great applause and some joyful tears. Watch the video below to experience this emotional event.
Excepts from the Randolph Oral History Project
Rosa Brooks was born on February 24, 1923 in a small town in Georgia. She attended a high school called Cook County Training School. Rosa has six siblings and she is the second to last child.
Rosa says: “I look in the mirror and I don’t see anything special about me.”
We all disagree.
Robertus Coleman wants to make sure she’s remembered for the impact she has made [on her community].
Robertus believes there’s an area of improvement that everyone has room for in their personality and that we should all strive to be the best person we can possibly be.
When she was younger, Katherine McKinnon looked up to her Aunt Liz, because Aunt Liz wouldn’t sugarcoat anything, which is how Katherine is now.
Katherine's life in the country ended when her family picked up and moved to 215 111th street on 7th Avenue. Katherine is a seventy year old now. She says the difference between when she was young and now, is that she feels more free.
All her grandkids are older, her youngest being thirteen. All she expects from them is respect. They definitely give her respect, along with so much love and admiration.