Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Doris Williams


Doris Williams

Interviewee: Doris Williams
Interviewer: Dr. Mark Naison
No Date of Interview
Summarized by Rob Passaro

Doris William’s family roots extend into Nassau, Florida and Virginia, but the majority of her family now lives in New York.  In 1941, Williams was fourteen when her family moved from Harlem to the Bronx.  The Williams’s were Episcopalian but began attending the Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church when they moved to the Bronx because there were no Episcopal Churches in their neighborhood.  Williams said her neighborhood was known as “the Valley,” and described it as predominately Black and Italian, with few West Indians.  Williams attended Olenville Junior High and Evander Childs High School and remembers growing up playing games in the street, going to the movies and listening to music by Big Man Slang, Debbie Eckstein, Billie Holiday, Swats and Lyle Napter.

Williams worked for American Pro-life when she got older and spent her free time writing letters to her friend’s brother who had been at war over seas.  When he returned from war, the two met in the Bronx and later married.  By this time Williams was working for commentators and doing some freelance work on the side, while her husband was employed by the Post Office.  The couple spent their first six months together living in Harlem with Williams’s grandmother before moving to Hunts Point Morrisania.  Williams and her husband then moved back in with her parents before the Eastchester Houses opened in the late 1950s.  In 1948 the couple had their first of four children and by 1960 the family had bought a house, which Williams still lives in today.  Their children attended Catholic school and Williams and her husband both actively participated in the church and scouting, attending cub scout events at St Rose’s Center.

Williams remained involved in activities through the church over the years and is one of the Presidents of the Black Chapter.  She also spends time with the Senior Center and the African American Culture Group.  Her children have all moved out of the Bronx and now live in Queens, Yonkers, Upstate New York and North Carolina.  Williams said her neighborhood has become much more Caribbean over the years and despite her own Caribbean decent, recognizes quite a cultural difference between Caribbean immigrants and the old residents.

Keywords:  The Valley, Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church, Oldersville Junior High, Evander Childs High School, Big Man Slang, Debbie Eckstein, Debbie Holiday, Swats, Lyle Napter, American Pro-life, Huts Point, Morrisania, Eastchester Houses, St Rose’s Center, the Black Chapter, African American Culture Group, Caribbean Immigrants.


© 2009 Bronx African-American History Project at Fordham University

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