Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York


Daphne Moss

Interviewee: Daphne Moss
Interviewer: Dr. Mark Naison and Natasha Lightfoot
Date of interview April 19, 2005
Summarized by Christian Riviera

Daphne Moss is a nurse, educator and community activist in the Bronx. Her parents are from the island of Jamaica and came to the United States via Ellis Island. The Moss family was the only Jamaican family on the block. The Moss family participated in the activities of St. Anne’s Church on St. Anne’s Avenue. The congregation contained Puerto Ricans, Jamaicans, and some white families. Daphne’ had numerous Puerto Rican friends in the neighborhood, however she could not identify with them culturally. On one occasion, Daphne was called a Big White Lady by black guys. She needed to find a comfortable identity. She was not Puerto Rican and in the Black neighborhood she was not considered black.
One of the most important influences in Daphne’s life is her exposure to different types of music in the Bronx. During her youth, she went to numerous parties and learned to Salsa dance in the Halls of Buildings. In addition, she went to parties and listened to the Isley Brothers, Jump Up and Shout, Jackie Wilson, Elvis Pressley, and the Beatles. She would listen to Puerto Rican guys singing DooWop in the Hallways and on street corners. Daphne’s love of music extended to live concerts. She would also listen to Symphony Sid and a new music style called Pachanga.
When Daphne Moss went to Morris High School the population was predominately African American.
Aside from Daphne’s musical experiences, the turbulent 1960’s greatly changed the Bronx community and her identity as a person.  Heroin was spreading into the streets and affecting seemingly everyone. The influx of drugs was present during the violent Vietnam War. Daphne claims that some men were not drafted because they were addicted to Heroin. In addition to the Vietnam Era, Daphne expressed her thoughts about the Civil Rights movement. She claims that she would not have been passive like Martin Luther King.
When the community started to change, Daphne moved to the Northeast Bronx, 221st Bronxwood Ave. She graduated and worked in a telephone company. Daphne was influenced by her sister to become a nurse. She was inspired by her sister’s stories from Belleview.  While in the Northeast Bronx, she met her husband. They lived together in  Jamie Towers in the Bronx. She earned her B.A. from Fordham Univeristy.  In 1969, she registered for classes at Hunter College. During her college career at Hunter, she became more comfortable with her identity. She took classes on Malcolm X and the East African Slave trade.  She identified with Africans, because Africans take in everyone.
After receiving her Master’s degree in Health Education, Daphne Moss taught nursing at Benjamin Franklin in East Harlem. Afterwards, she took over for the distinguished Health Careers Program at Evander High School .Daphne taught at Evander High School from 1982- 1991.

To Researcher: Strong evidence on Musical influences in the Bronx (salsa Doo Wop) , race relations between Puerto Ricans & blacks and Jamaicans & blacks.  Comments on The Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, the 1960’s influx of drugs in the Bronx. Strong Subject matter on the establishment of an African/ African American identity.  Daphne Commnents on the shifting nature of the 41st Police Precint in the Bronx ( from open and Friendly to strict). She comments on her experiences with her cousin Colin Powell.  She Comments on early 1980’s hip/hop ( Edenwald writer).

Keywords:  Simpson St.  Jamaica. Ellis Island. Race Relations (Puerto Ricans, Blacks, Jamaicans) St. Anne’s Church, Hunt’s Point Palace, Intervale Place (International) Club Cubano, Salsa,  Morris High School, Tito Puente, Mongo Santa Maria, Elvis Pressley, Symphony Sid, Isley Brothers, Barry Rodgers, Peter Rodriguez, Eddy Palmieri, Drugs (I,e Heroin) Skin Popping, Social Clubs, Vietnam era, Civil Rights Movement, Belleview Hospital,  41st Precinct, Brisas restaurant, Jamie Towers, Fordham University Hunter College, Dr Rodriguez-Abad, John Henrike Clarke, Malcolm X,  Hip Hop. Doo Wop, Evander High School, Health Careers Program,, Mrs. Corn. School of Cooperative Technical Education. Prospect Ave. The Mash Potato, Mickey’s Monkey.St. Anthony of Padua.  Martin Luther King, Bronxwood Ave. Parkchester. Harlem. Castle Hill Ave.  Colin Powell. Edenwald Writer.


© 2009 Bronx African-American History Project at Fordham University

Site  | Directories
Submit Search Request