The Bronx has collectively endured years of adversity and hardship. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, residents faced down the social impact of segregation, privation, and political marginalization. Despite the stagnation of top-down progress, The Bronx remains activated through its decades-long history of mutual aid. Coming Full Circle amplifies the stories of those who survived and built community networks to reverse these harms. Schools, religious institutions, and grassroots organizing joined in tandem to strengthen this resilience.
The Bronx Community College Archives teamed up with Photoville and the Friends Of Aqueduct Walk (FOAW) to support Coming Full Circle: Practices of Resilience, a public exhibition featuring Aqueduct Park located across the street from the Bronx Community College campus, to produce a public exhibition with historical and community photos of local Bronx residents who grew up in and around this park.
The exhibition was unveiled on December 4 and includes Cynthia’s oral history interview with Reverend Jim Fairbanks, a pastor of the United Church of Christ and long-term Bronx advocate who shared his memories of the neighborhood as well as efforts to preserve and maintain this vital yet overlooked neighborhood green public space for the community. Listen to the short audio clip here. The full-length interviews are processed and made available at the BCC Archives’ Spotify channel. Many thanks to Bronx Community College fellow alumni Jacqueline Johnson-Carmichael who served as the project’s curator and oral history contributor, Pilar Maschi from Partnership for Parks/FOAW, Jasmin Chang from Photoville, and our oral history narrators Renea Bush and Jim Fairbanks.
This interview was part of the collaborative exhibit, Coming Full Circle: Practices of Resilience, conducted in partnership with Photoville and Partnership for Parks.
Reverend Jim Fairbanks
…is a pastor of the United Church of Christ and long-term advocate of the South Bronx. In this interview, Fairbanks describes when he arrived to the Bronx, his activism fighting for affordable housing and how he participated in local social justice campaigns as part of several ecumenical coalitions alongside the community.
…is a member of University Heights Presbyterian Church and Bronx Presbyterian Churches. In this interview Renea describes her childhood experiences while growing up in Sedgwick Housing; and the historical surrounding areas of Aqueduct Walk, Morton Playground and Bronx Community College. Renea shares how her life experiences shaped her role in ministry and how she has become a community advocate for youth and human rights in the Bronx. Her activism allows her to work with Friends of Aqueduct Walk and other community coalitions.
These and other interviews are now available on our Spotify channel.
For more information or questions, please reach out to Prof. Cynthia Tobar.